Do Radar Detectors Encourage Safe Driving, Or Discourage It?

There has long been a raging debate in the automobile community as to whether radar detectors are a positive or a negative force when it comes to safe driving. Opponents of the devices often say that they encourage aggressive driving and speeding since the driver can be fairly confident that they will be alerted when police are around. Proponents on the other hand, say that radar detectors actually cause drivers to check their speed and driving habits more frequently, because they make the police deterrent much more visible.

The argument has been going on for decades; ever since the devices were first invented. It continues to this day and neither side is really any closer to winning. At Fort Collins Foreign Car Service, we realize that safe driving is absolutely crucial because we see the results of aggressive or distracted driving everyday. That’s why these devices hold a special interest for us. We don’t want our customers to end up at their local auto shop because of an avoidable accident.

Radar Detectors & Road Safety, By The Numbers

The debate over the merits and consequences of radar detector use is as fierce as it is inconclusive. Both sides have been citing studies and data for years to disprove the other side’s arguments. A research study in the 1980’s found that radar detectors could actually reduce instances of speeding, whereas other studies done more recently have found either inconclusive or opposite results.

A recent study done by law enforcement in Denver looked at motorists travelling on I-70 and E-470 to determine whether radar detector use encourages speeding or not. The study focused on commercial truckers and found that those drivers with radar detectors did in fact tend to travel more quickly; five to six miles per hour faster on average.

It’s actually illegal for commercial trucks to use radar detectors in Colorado, but legal for passenger vehicles. The data from the study will be combined with data from Nebraska, North Carolina and Texas as part of a national study entitled “Radar Detectors and Speeding”.

Personal Responsibility Is The Difference

Of course, the net effect of using a radar detector depends on you: the driver. It is certainly possible to use a radar detector to encourage more attentiveness to your current speed and avoid costly tickets that could also result in car insurance premium hikes. On the other hand, it is just as possible to use them abusively to enable ‘safe’ speeding. As is often the case with automotive tech, the difference is down to personal responsibility.

So, should you purchase a radar detector? If you’re looking to do it in order to allow your aggressive and speedy driving habits more free reign, then as your local auto shop we would have to say no. The money that you might save by avoiding tickets would more be more than offset from the fact that you would be more likely to get in an accident that could potentially be fatal to yourself or others, and at the least would likely require an expensive repair at your local auto shop.

If, on the other hand, you’re doing it enable greater awareness on the road and more mindful driving, then you could benefit from the devices. Don’t forget that radar detectors still aren’t cheap, however. The decent ones still cost upwards of $300 and can be nearly a thousand dollars on the high-end.

Defensive Driving Is The Answer

At Fort Collins Foreign Car Service, we know that the most important determinant of how likely you are to get in an auto accident is your own driving habits. That’s right, although most people like to blame auto accidents on the other driver, these kinds of things can often (though not always) be prevented by utilizing tried and true defensive driving techniques and making sure to maximize awareness by eliminating dangerous distractions while driving.

We’ve covered defensive driving techniques on this blog before, and we won’t rehash all of them here. But, suffice it to say that a little awareness and careful driving can go a long way to avoiding an auto accident or an expensive speeding ticket. Truthfully, we shouldn’t need an expensive device in order to remind us to check our speed. This should be automatic.

In the end, although our lifeblood at Fort Collins Foreign Car Service is car maintenance and repair, we would just as soon see less auto accidents (but more people diligently getting preventative maintenance done!) That’s why we do all that we can to promote safe driving for drivers all over Colorado. Because, we know that safe driving education is an important part of giving back to the community in Fort Collins and the rest of Colorado.