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The best radar detector to keep you safe while driving

  • What you need to know
  • The best models recommended
  • Help yourself remain within speed limits

Written by Ryan Gilmore Published: 22 August 2022 Updated: 16 May 2024

Nobody wants to be fined for speeding, but even the most conscientious driver can let their concentration slip and let that speedo creep up. 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. So why take the risk in the first place when a radar detector can give you ample warning and allow you to safely adjust your speed?

Some modern cars come with cruise control that will make sure you don’t wander over the limit, but sometimes, with variable traffic density and flow, you can find yourself speeding up and slowing down too often to use the cruise control, so a radar detector can be there to keep you in check.

There are various different types of radar detectors: some will alert you to the position of fixed-speed cameras (some can also detect mobile ones). 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.

The best radar detectors shortlist:

Editor’s choice: Saphe Drive Mini – Buy now from Amazon UK

Best sat-nav detector: Garmin DriveSmart 55 MT-S – Buy now from Amazon UK

Best dash cam detector: Thinkware Q1000 Dash Cam – Buy now from Amazon UK

The best radar detectors

The Saphe Drive Mini will warn you about all types of speed cameras in traffic, whether it is mobile or fixed, average speed or traffic light cameras. There are no distractions, as the display only becomes active to give you a warning.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • No subscription

Cons

  • Requires a smartphone
Best sat-nav detector
There are options beyond dedicated radar detectors. Top-quality sat nav devices, such as the DriveSmart series from Garmin or TomTom's models, supply you with the correct speed limits and any upcoming speed changes. Having very accurate navigation is a very handy additional benefit.

Pros

  • Speed detection and sat-nav
  • Built-in WiFi connectivity

Cons

  • Updates can be slow
Best budget detector
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
  • No subscription is needed
  • Good price

Cons

  • No interface
  • Lacks a laser detector
Best dash cam detector
Like sat navs, Thinkware's dash cams can also act as speed limit warning systems. They use the Cyclops database to warn of speed cameras in the UK and provide free updates. The Q100 is one of the brand's better dash cams, which comes with a host of safety features and very crisp recording quality.

Pros

  • You get a dash cam as well
  • Many other safety features besides speed camera detector

Cons

  • Set-up can be time-consuming
Best detector with safety features
This Garmin sat-nav has the added bonus of providing lots of safety features, including forward collision and lane departure warnings, alerts for school zones, sharp curves and those important speed changes. It comes with a 7” high-resolution sat nav screen with a built-in dashcam and hands-free calling when paired with your smartphone.

Pros

  • Easy-to-read screen
  • Lots of safety features

Cons

  • Mounting can be difficult

FAQs

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.

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.

How we choose
All of these radar detectors have been hand-selected by our team of experts who have spent hours investigating and researching radar detectors to make it easier for you to find the very best, and we’d never recommend a product we don’t believe in.
Where possible, we also test and share the latest and best products you should know about.

Ryan Gilmore is the Deputy Autos and Tools Editor for Parkers and CAR, specialising in car cleaning and hand tools. With an MA in Automotive Journalism, when he’s not testing buckets he can be found looking at old Porsches.

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