Another speeding ticket may cost you more than just money. A ticket can cost as little as $150, but some states can charge up to $2400, depending on your infraction. Too many tickets and your license may be suspended, keeping you off of the road for a while. If you want to avoid a ticket, take your mom s advice and  Don t go over the speed limit!  But if you ve got a lead foot, you may need a reminder, and it s time to look for the best radar detector you can find.

How radar detectors work

We ll have to go right back to high school science for the basics on how radar detectors work, but it s pretty simple. Law enforcement officials are out there with radar guns that send radio signals toward cars. Once transmitted, the gun s receiver seeks out a return signal that comes when these waves bounce-back, and when they do, a quick calculation is made as to how fast your car is travelling.

There are a number of different consumer radar detection devices on the market that are designed to help you find the detector before it finds you.

Benefits of using a radar detector

You should keep your radar detector on all the time, unless it s illegal to use it in the state in which you are driving   laws change all the time, so use caution. There are some radar detectors that keep you honest wherever you go   they alert you when you exceed the speed limit, so you can correct your speed at any time. This is clearly Mom s preferred method.

However, radar detectors were really developed to sense law enforcement radar guns and warn you that they re being used in the area. In order to be effective, your radar detector must be faster and have a longer range than the equipment being used by law enforcement. It also must be able to detect as many types of devices as possible, so it can do its job in many municipalities. For example, some law enforcement agencies use a variety of radio bands in their detection devices, including the X-band, the K-band or the Ka-Band. They may also use a mix of two of those in one machine. You also want your detector to be able to sense instant-on or POP modes that law enforcement use as bait in the cat-and-mouse radar game.

Some law enforcement agencies are also using laser detection. While there are detectors that can sense when you ve been tagged, they can only alert you when you ve already been detected and law enforcement has your number.

Each radar detector features a different range on a different band. Car and Driver tests detectors on a 2.5-mile straight piece of road but admits that only the most advanced detectors under the most optimal conditions work on a range that long. Most detectors give you short warning from a distance of a few thousand feet or so, giving you a very short time to reduce your speed safely.

Detecting other signals

Some of the best radar detectors also alert you of where speed cameras, red-light cameras and common speed trap areas are located. This kind of intelligence is very helpful to drivers in unfamiliar territory and can help you stay  under the radar,  as the saying goes.

As technology advances, so are the detection systems that law enforcement officials use. Stay tuned for future advancements that may require you to shop for an upgrade. For now, here s a list of radar detectors to consider.

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