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Using a new electronic device, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has confirmed what highway patrol officers have long suspected: Millions of motorists are operating radar detectors to avoid speeding tickets.

For the last two months, a team of IIHS electronic sleuths have easily pinpointed hundreds of speeding trucks and cars in Virginia and Maryland that are equipped with radar detectors."From what we discovered in Virginia and Maryland, it's clear one-third of all 18-wheel trucks and five percent of all motorists are using radar detectors," said IIHS president Brian O'Neill. "That means millions of motorists have them, including many of the fastest vehicles on our highways."

The survey was conducted by a crew of IIHS technicians using a recently developed radar-detector detector, the Interceptor VG-2, being marketed by Technisonic Industries of Mississauga, Ontario.

Technisonic vice president Robert Riel said the Interceptor can sense microwave signals emitted by radar detectors nearly half a mile away. "When it identifies a radar detector, it goes `beep, beep, beep' and causes a red diode to light up," Riel explained.

Since the Interceptor's introduction a year ago, Technisonic has sold more than 100 of them to law enforcement agencies in Ottawa, Quebec, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. Police in all five Canadian provinces are ticketing radar detector owners, confiscating the devices and destroying them.

O`Neill said since the Interceptor's debut, Canadian police and some motorists have been playing a radar detector cat-and-mouse game.

"Some Canadian motorists now carry two detectors, one to use and a cheap second one to hand over to the police," he said. "However, the police aren't being fooled. After confiscating the first device, they tail the motorist for a while at a discreet distance. When he turns on his second device, they nail him again."

In the United States, three jurisdictions - Connecticut, the District of Columbia and Virginia - prohibit radar detectors. New York soon will ban them in large trucks. However, none of these jurisdictions have purchased the Canadian detector-detectors.

"The Insurance Institute's device was one of the first we've sold in the United States," Riel said.

O'Neill said the Interceptor is a "remarkable little device" that should encourage state and municipal governments to ban radar detectors.