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September 11, 2010


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As you may know, Virginia is the only state that bans the use and sale of detectors. There is no evidence that the detector ban increases highway safety. Our nation’s fatality rates have fallen consistently for almost two decades. Virginia’s fatality rate has also fallen, but not any more dramatically than it has nationwide. Research has even shown that radar detector owners have a lower accident rate than motorists who do not own a detector.

Maintaining the ban is not in the best interest of Virginians or visitors to the state. I know and know of people that will not drive in Virginia due to this ban. Unjust enforcement practices are not unheard of, and radar detectors can keep safe motorists from being exploited by abusive speed traps. Likewise, the ban has a negative impact on Virginia’s business community. Electronic distributors lose business to neighboring states and Virginia misses out on valuable sales tax revenue.

Radar detector bans do not work. Research and experience show that radar detector bans do not result in lower accident rates, improved speed-limit compliance or reduce auto insurance expenditures.
• The Virginia radar detector ban is difficult and expensive to enforce. The Virginia ban diverts precious law enforcement resources from more important duties.
• Radar detectors are legal in the rest of the nation, in all 49 other states. In fact, the first state to test a radar detector ban, Connecticut, repealed the law – it ruled the law was ineffective and unfair. It is time for our Virginia to join the rest of the nation.
• It has never been shown that radar detectors cause accidents or even encourage motorists to drive faster than they would otherwise. The Yankelovich – Clancy – Shulman Radar Detector Study conducted in 1987, showed that radar detector users drove an average of 34% further between accidents (233,933 miles versus 174,554 miles) than non radar detector users. The study also showed that they have much higher seat belt use compliance. If drivers with radar detectors have fewer accidents, it follows that they have reduced insurance costs – it is counterproductive to ban radar detectors.
• In a similar study performed in Great Britain by MORI in 2001 the summary reports that "Users (of radar detectors) appear to travel 50% further between accidents than non-users. In this survey the users interviewed traveling on average 217,353 miles between accidents compared to 143,401 miles between accidents of those non-users randomly drawn from the general public." The MORI study also reported "Three quarters agree, perhaps unsurprisingly, that since purchasing a radar detector they have become more conscious about keeping to the speed limit..." and "Three in five detector users claim to have become a safer driver since purchasing a detector."
• Modern radar detectors play a significant role in preventing accidents and laying the technology foundation for the Safety Warning System® (SWS). Radar detectors with SWS alert motorists to oncoming emergency vehicles, potential road hazards, and unusual traffic conditions. There are more than 10 million radar detectors with SWS in use nationwide. The federal government has earmarked $2.1 million for further study of the SWS over a three-year period of time. The U.S. Department of Transportation is administering grants to state and local governments to purchase the SWS system and study its effectiveness (for example, in the form of SWS transmitters for school buses and emergency vehicles). The drivers of Virginia deserve the right to the important safety benefits that SWS delivers.


This comment is, I presume, a robo-comment, probably triggered by certain keywords appearing in the tags section. It has no relationship to the subject of my original post; and it bears all the hallmarks of the canned PR stuff that corporate interests gin up to oppose perfectly good ideas that they don't like because they affect their profits. Those include the vague references to mushy statistics like "some surveys have shown;" the adduction of irrelevant factors; the disguising of who the real authors are (here, presumably, they are the guys who produce and sell radar detectors); and most important, the classic effort to turn a negative (we make a product that helps people evade enforcement of the law) into a false positive (the use of radar detectors really improves highway SAFETY)! Well, you can prove anything with statistics.

Most bloggers probably just delete these but I kept it here (minus the links to the petition the writers want you to sign) because it's illustrative of the point I made in the original post: There is a presumption on some people's part that "freedom" includes a right to break a law if you don't get caught. With respect to radar detectors, I agree, up to a point -- we ALL know that we drive above the speed limit most of the time, at least out on the highway -- but the point where I differ with RadarDetectors Inc is that when you're caught at it, you have to be willing to accept the consequences, i.e., a ticket.

As for some of the touted "benefits" of radar detectors like the SWS system advertised in the comment, I'd say all of that can be had elsewhere, on a perfectly legal GPS system that offers far more benefits than a radar detector. So fellows, you're pushing an obsolete product.

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