This is the paper that I prefaced a month ago and actually used information from this site to create the paper. Any feed back is welcome, positive or negative, and I appreciate any involvement. I pose a question in the intro and answer it, and then revisit the question and reanswer it at the end. This is just a research paper regarding any topic, I structured it in a way that I introduce and go through a few articles and then arrive at a conclusion.
A Radar Detector and How It Can Be Effective
Modern technology has given us an electronic device, which allows drivers to know when they are being targeted with radar by a police officer. Radar is a way of measuring the speed traveled by a vehicle. A radar detector is a device used in a vehicle that recognizes different types of radar. Radar detectors are becoming more common with drivers because of the amount of time spent on the road by the average commuter. Most drivers are looking to cut back this time by speeding, but don’t want to pay the cost of a ticket, so they arm themselves with this device as a defense against the police force. These detectors are often seen as only a countermeasure, a defense against the police, to advocate speeding or reckless driving, yet these devices have so much more to offer the operator. However, does the use of a radar detector give you a license to speed? These devices can be a license to speed because they can give you the sense of feeling untouchable by the police which can lead to irresponsible driving and reckless driving.
Radar has been in use since 1970 and has provided local and state authorities with constant revenue as well as a method to keep the roads safe. Radar speed measurement is used to accurately acquire and measure a driver’s speed and allow the law enforcement officer to determine if the car is exceeding the speed limit or posing a danger to drivers around him. A radar detector is a device that detects specific radio transmissions, more specifically detects radar transmissions. Radar detectors are legal in 48 of the 50 U.S. states (Virginia and Washington D.C.) and have become a method of avoiding speeding tickets issued by the police. Over time as speed limits have lowered the need to speed has almost become a necessity. These detectors have the ability to alert a speeding driver to the use of active radar near them, allowing him or her the time to slow down without disrupting traffic flow. As this device has grown and improved over the years so have the government’s methods. They are now using laser, which is a faster and more accurate measuring tool, VASCAR, which measures speed based on a distance traveled. VASCAR is one method that the police have begun to use which uses no radar at all. Radar detectors have grown rapidly in popularity and have often been associated with reckless driving. This association has led to the idea that a radar detector was designed to circumvent the law and allow unlimited speeding. However, a radar detector is a passive device which only reacts to the presence of radar emission and, as shown before, there are ways to continue to enforce the law without the use of radar.
“Speed kills.”(Christoffel 507) These are the beginning words by author Tom Christoffel in writing about how speeding and a radar detector are connected. The title alone shows the opinion and goal of Christoffel, “State bans on Radar Detectors,”(Christoffel 507) he wants the states to pass a law that would ban any usage or even possessing a detector. The reason for banning the detectors is mainly because of their overall use by speeders. He makes the argument that all speeders own and use these devices for the sole purpose of evading speeding tickets. In his research on this topic, Christoffel came across occasions where individuals had been pulled over that actually owned a detector. He then shows how reliable the measuring of speed is when using a radar gun and even shows how these measurements are rarely challenged and even more rarely defeated. Christoffel writes about how these detectors can be used to evade the law and how a radar detector can be seen as “a license to speed.”(Christoffel 508) Christoffel argues that if this device shows you where the police are, how can the police complete their responsibility of keeping the roads safe? He goes on to show how radar detectors have often given drivers the feeling of being invincible or invisible to the police in regards to ever being pulled over. Christoffel shows that the detector itself is not the problem; he states this by saying “the real issue here is not radar detectors but speed.”(Christoffel 510) Here he illustrates how regardless of use or misuse of a detector it’s the driver who determines the speed of the vehicle and without the change in behavior by the driver, the roads will continue to be unsafe.
Daniel McGinn with Newsweek described personal experiences with receiving speeding tickets over the years and how it has affected him and the way he drives. He writes “I like to think that I’m an excellent driver-but that wasn’t always true.”(McGinn 1) Referring to his teenage years recently after receiving his license, he cites three different occasions where he was given tickets for speeding. McGinn says that radar detectors’ goal is to assist drivers in avoiding speeding tickets and running red lights. He writes about how these detectors have begun to use GPS as to better help the driver in knowing what threats are near him. Using these GPS locaters, these detectors and other electronics have the ability to alert a driver to any threat ahead of them. As GPS works by location and not receiving any information from any outside source, this is reliable 100% of the time. He also shows how different businesses and websites have started up for the ability to know where a red light camera is or where a police officer would be setting up a speed trap. Specifically, McGinn talks about Fabein Pichon, a 65 year old man in Arizona who uses one of these GPS systems to get around town. Using this GPS device he has continued to avoid a ticket since 1970 and states “the alert tells me to exercise extreme caution and makes me more observant.”(McGinn 2)
Europe’s most respected polling company, Mori, conducted a survey in 2001 that compared drivers that owned radar detectors versus drivers that did not. The results, prompted by varying questions, showed differences in driving patterns, accidents, vehicles owned, and how conscious of their driving these individuals are. Referring to radar detector owners as users, the survey found that users typically drove 217,353 miles in between accidents, whereas non-users only completed 143,401 miles. The users also said that after purchasing their detector they had become safer drivers as well as being more aware of their surroundings, including the speed limits of the roads they traveled often. Both non-users and users agreed that their speeding contributed to the accidents they were involved in. This being shown, owning a radar detector does not allow a driver to speed; non-users were equally responsible in their speeding habits with regard to the accidents caused. The survey also showed that the users implemented more hands free devices and GPS systems for their commute to or from work. These differences show how radar detectors assisted these drivers in becoming safer and better drivers while on the road. Interestingly enough, the cars driven by users were furthermore found to be more luxurious such as BMW or Mercedes, whereas the non-users generally were driving Ford or Peugot. Users were also found to be more full-time employees with higher paying careers than the non-users. Overall, these users became more efficient drivers through being in less accidents and being more aware of their driving, these differences being attributed to owning and using their radar detectors. Their detectors assisted them in improving their driving habits and established more road awareness. This comparison provided by Mori involving over one thousand drivers, illustrates how radar detectors have provided helpful ways for drivers to improve their driving.
Through the articles cited we can see that owning a radar detector can benefit any driver. This device can assist drivers in being more aware and observant of their surroundings. As the “users”(Mori 2) in the Mori survey showed, driving with this device can help you be more conscious of your speed. If you are more aware of your speed and the speed limits around you, how does this make you a danger to the public? It doesn’t, quite the opposite. In contrast, author Christoffel, writes “Radar detectors should be banned,” (Christoffel 510); the basis of this argument is that all radar detector owners speed. If you own a radar detector, that does not automatically make you speed. Each driver, specifically in the Mori survey, admitted to speeding, including the drivers without a detector. Escort, one of the leading companies producing detectors, recently released a video about a detector and its new capabilities. Not once through this ad did they advocate or promote speeding. Quite the opposite actually, the video shows a middle class father in a small semi rural area going to pick up his kids from school. The main point and promotion of this video is the detector, but also the added protection and awareness this device gives any average driver. One type of radar that is currently in use is referred to as SWS radar which stands for Safety Warning System. This type of radar, only received by a detector, can alert the driver to construction, accidents, adverse weather ahead and more helpful information. This system can assist any driver in being more aware, mainly because all of the alerts will affect any driver regardless of their speed. This device gives drivers advanced warning to where radar sources are.
I have found, through personal experience, that the use of a radar detector can improve one’s driving capabilities. This device aids drivers in becoming safer and more aware of their surrounding, specifically the speed limits on roads they travel. Through the articles I have read from varying publications, this device can be seen by individuals not currently using one to be counterproductive for any driver. However, from radar detector owners that I have polled personally, all have found that this device is not a license to speed; it has allowed them to continue to improve upon their driving habits. Specifically, in the poll, multiple individuals said “It seems to me that I used to drive a lot faster before I had my radar detector.” (www.radardetector.net, 1) Other owners say the reason they own a detector because it keeps them more “engaged with the road and what is going on around.” (www.radardetector.net, 2) These many drivers, throughout the world, use these detectors as a countermeasure to what they can see on the road. Such drivers utilizing these detectors have said when it makes a sound it helps them snap back and realize how fast they were going. Radar detectors have been in use for many years and have continued to assist these drivers in becoming more safe and aware of their driving.
As a driver myself, I have often been traveling behind a vehicle that suddenly slams on the brakes at the sight of a police car. This sudden reaction often causes accidents and even traffic build up. If that driver had a radar detector, they could have slowed down safely previous to actually seeing the police car and avoiding additional danger and potential traffic build up. These advanced warnings ranging from active radar to a safety warning system can benefit any driver and help them become more defensive. Radar detectors have been heavily debated over the last few years and have been the subject in many court cases to be banned from any use or possession. Yet, they have not been banned and shown increased sales and progressively introducing new features so that drivers can be safer on the roads. I have seen drivers improve their driving habits by owning a radar detector and over time have grown a great appreciation for the detector I own. I believe they should continue to be legal because they do help drivers become more defensive and more aware of the driving. As shown above, the detector does show where police are when using active radar and allows drivers to exceed the speed limit, yet it also helps them speed smart. By speed smart I would cite the users from the Mori survey. They all admitted their speed was part of what caused the accidents, but overall they were in fewer accidents over a period of miles per accident than those who did not use a detector. This is one reason that they should continue to be legal as they have not become a danger to the public in any way. A radar detector does not give you a license to speed, but helps you improve your driving and give you advanced warning to active radar. These devices do not give anyone a license to speed; especially as the police force have developed additional ways to insure tickets without any use of radar. As Christoffel said "speeding is the true problem."(Christoffel 511) Christoffel illustrates how radar detectors are not the true problem, but actually the drivers themselves. Using this radar detector will help average drivers be more aware of their speeding and give them additional tools to control and monitor their speed.
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