The federal government on Friday ordered drivers of heavy trucks and buses to get rid of radar detectors by Jan. 19, an action that will affect millions of professional drivers.
The Federal Highway Administration issued the final rule on the ban, leaving the states to decide on penalties. The rule does not penalize states that fail to enforce the ban, although the agency said it would consider later whether to deny federal motor-carrier safety funds to states that are lax on enforcement.
A radar ban for automobiles “is not currently under discussion,” a Transportation Department spokesman said.
The rule is tightly drawn to include all radar detectors, which alert drivers when police are nearby using speed-detecting radar guns. A summary said it would cover “any device that detects radio microwaves, laser beams or any other future speed measurement technology.”
The ban covers all commercial vehicles under Transportation Department jurisdiction: interstate trucks and buses weighing more than 10,000 pounds or carrying 16 or more passengers. It also covers all vehicles hauling hazardous materials and intrastate vehicles in states that adhere to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on transportation and related agencies, praised the federal action.
“There is no reason to have these devices except to evade the law,” Lautenberg said.
A 1992 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 40% of tractor-trailers operating in seven Eastern states had radar detectors. Only 4% of passenger cars had them.
Radar detectors already are prohibited in Virginia and the District of Columbia.