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GROUP PETITIONS TO BLOCK NATIONAL RADAR DETECTOR BAN

 ENGLEWOOD, Fla., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Without evidence of a safety problem, the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) has no valid reason to ban radar detectors from the nation's commercial trucks and buses, argues an organization representing those who make, sell and own radar detectors.
 The Radio Association Defending Airwave Rights, Inc., (RADAR) today filed a petition with the federal agency, seeking to keep the proposed ban from going into effect.
 RADAR's petition points out that when the FHwA issued its proposed regulation in January 1992 in response to a congressional directive, the agency acknowledged that a "direct causative linkage between radar detectors and CMV (commercial motor vehicle) accidents may not exist." After reviewing the comments and data generated by the 1992 notice, the FHwA this year again conceded there is no evidence that radar detector use is harmful to highway safety or that detector bans improved safety in three states and the District of Columbia.
 Agency officials told the Senate Appropriations Committee in a September hearing that there was no justification for a ban, but senators said they were "displeased" that the FHwA had not moved forward with the regulation.
 RADAR observes that a curious thing then happened: "After 16 months of inaction, based upon its own review of the data and an obvious threat to cut the agency's funding, the FHwA forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget the proposed rule to ban radar detectors in CMVs. This occurred on October 8, one week after the Senate committee expressed its 'displeasure' to the FHwA."
 In other words, RADAR president Janice Lee argues, the agency succumbed to political pressure, rather than standing behind the independent professional judgement of its staff. "More than 8,400 jobs and a uniquely American industry are at stake," she says.
 Some of the strongest arguments against a ban come from former FHwA Administrator Ray Barnhart, now an independent transportation safety consultant, who reviewed more than 5,000 pages of studies and other documentation related to radar detector use. Among Barnhart's findings:
 -- There is no relationship, causative or otherwise, between radar detector use and commercial motor vehicle accidents. Thus, a ban on radar detectors in CMVs will not enhance highway safety.
 -- Radar detector bans do not decrease the number or severity of accidents.
 -- Commercial drivers are already among the safest on the nation's highways. Not only do they have a lower accident rate, but the number of truck crashes involving speeding is small.
 -- Commercial drivers who use detectors do not as a class travel faster than other drivers, and a significant number of detector-equipped vehicles travel at or below speed limits.
 "Millions of truckers depend on radar detectors to help them avoid undeserved tickets from error-prone police traffic radar," Lee says. RADAR believes that the intense pressure to impose the ban has more to do with money than safety.
 "The proposal has gotten this far not because of facts but because of big money, and heavy political pressure," she says. "The facts show no link between accidents or unsafe driving; they show that police traffic radar is prone to mistakes and misuse; and they show that state after state has rejected radar detector bans in favor of preserving the right of drivers to protect themselves against undeserved tickets. In essence, the federal government would force states to spend hundreds of millions of dollars enforcing a ban they don't want and which would not make our highways safer."
 RADAR is concerned that as a result of the ban, insurance companies would profit from surcharges and higher premiums they can impose when their customers are ticketed, police ticket revenues would soar, and thousands of workers in the U.S. detector industry would be out of work. Clearly, this is the first step toward a total ban in all vehicles, according to RADAR.
 "The administration already has given notice it plans to stand up to the insurance industry on the health care issue. We want the President to know that same industry is threatening our rights and livelihoods here too," Lee says.
 RADAR is a national nonprofit association comprised of radar detector manufacturers, dealers and distributors who sell detectors and over 16,000 individuals who are concerned about their motoring rights.
 -0- 12/13/93
 /CONTACT: Jason Richards of RADAR, 813-473-1555/


CO: The Radio Association Defending Airwave Rights, Inc. ST: Florida IN: TRN SU:

BM-DA -- CL019 -- 3337 12/13/93 17:10 EST
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Date:Dec 13, 1993
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