Gene Snyder's use of a radar detector as a speed monitor {letters, Feb. 1} is certainly an interesting application of the device, but I note that most cars come equipped with a more reliable and less expensive speed-monitoring contraption: the speedometer. The fact is that a radar detector does not monitor speed; it monitors the presence of those who attempt to prevent speeding. If Mr. Snyder finds it too inconvenient to check his speedometer periodically, I suggest he invest in a cruise control device, which makes constant speed checking unnecessary. It would be easier and cheaper still to drive at the speed limit.

Radar detectors exist for one reason only: to allow people to break the law. They serve no legitimate function. They don't let you know where police officers are -- only that they are in the vicinity using their radar. They don't tell you when you are speeding; rather, they tell you when someone might catch you speeding. Drivers can eliminate this problem quite easily by driving at the speed limit.

Police are not infringing on anyone's rights by using radar to catch speeders. If people don't like the law, they should get legislatures to change it (as they are now doing with the new 65-mph speed limit). Responding to the public's will is the job of the legislature; we certainly don't need private law enforcement. Until legislatures change the law, however, it is crazy to allow the use of a device whose only purpose is to enable users to break the law. Radar detectors should be outlawed. STEVEN B. SNYDER Charlottesville