Nobody wants to be fined for speeding, and even the most attentive driver occasionally slips a mile or two above the limit. However, the law is the law, and if you're caught by a speed camera, you'll no doubt be served with a hefty fine. And while you can appeal your fine it is a long and laborious process you could really do without.
Some modern cars come with cruise control that will make sure you don't wonder over the limit, but for total peace of mind you can pick up a radar detector to make sure you aren't getting any nasty surprises in the post any time soon.
The best radar detectors
1. Aguri Skyway Detector
A good choice if you're doing a lot of miles, the Aguri Skyway offers both radar and laser detection. Each device comes preloaded with the latest information on speed camera locations and features 360-degree detection. Updates to the device can only be done using a computer, however.Pros:360-degree protectionLaser and radar protectionCons: Updates can be slow to activate
2. DriveSmart Alpha Radar
The DriveSmart Alpha is an impressive piece of kit even if it looks like an old answering machine. Detecting both radar and laser signals, it should keep you on the right side of the law. Updates can only be done by plugging the machine into a computer.Pros:Detects both radar and laserCons: Not the most stylishNeeds a computer to get the latest data
3. Road Angel Pure
By far the most stylish device here, this radar detector is a fantastic way to get regular traffic updates. The SIM card will update your device every minute giving information on speed camera locations and other traffic hazards. It also has a laser detector so you can have total peace of mind. You do need a subscription however and it is pricy. Pros:Works with your smartphone and automatically updates Good quality and stylishCons:An expensive choice Subscription is needed
4. Saphe One+ Speed Camera Alarm
The Saphe One+ is a compact radar detector and the best budget option. Connect your phone to the device using an app and it will beep to inform you of changing traffic conditions. All information is supplied by the network of users and can inform you of more than just nearby speed cameras. It can also warn you of accidents and dangerous conditions ahead. You can also get an official mount so you can fit it on one of your car's air vents. Pros:Compact and discreet option No subscription is neededCons:No interface Lacks a laser detector
5. DriveSmart Evo GPS Detector
A simple option from DriveSmart, the Evo may not look fancy but will warn you of upcoming speed cameras (using both lights and a robotic voice). It may not be the most stylish, but it will be effective. Pros:A simple but effective optionCons:Looks and feels a bit cheapRequires a computer for updates
What you need to know about radar detectors:
How does a radar detector work?
Radar detectors will alert you to the position of fixed speed cameras (some can also detect mobile ones, too). Some are GPS-based and will know when a speed camera is nearby, while others use radar to detect the signals coming from police speed detectors.
Are they legal to use in the UK?
You are allowed to use a radar detector under UK law. There were mutterings from the government that they could be banned, but no legislation has been presented so far.
Some police forces consider using a laser jammer to be perverting the course of justice, which comes with a hefty fine and even jail time in severe instances.
If you're planning a trip to mainland Europe or the Republic of Ireland, leave your radar detector at home, they're illegal to use and you will be fined and have the device confiscated.
What features should I look for?
The best radar detectors will also detect lasers (but will not jam them). Aside from that, look at the general quality of the product; suspiciously cheap examples will not be as good as reputable ones.
Look for a clear display so you can read the information clearly without having to take your eyes off the road. Some will sound an alarm, too, which is a useful additional feature.
Because new speed cameras pop up regularly, your radar detector will need to be constantly updated. The very best models will offer automatic updates but may require a paid subscription. Mid-range models will need to be plugged into a computer and updated periodically which is a bit of a pain.