Recession Drives Speeding Tix, "Escort" Business

The recession and economic woes of the automakers has created a lot of discounting of new cars and trucks for those who are in the market for new wheels. That’s the good news. The bad news is that no matter what you are driving, law enforcement is handing out more parking and speeding tickets than ever to make up for everything from lower tax revenues to cuts in state aid.

That’s where Escort Inc. comes in. The leading maker of navigation systems and “fuzz-busters” is doing brisk business in the teeth of an economic meltdown. “It used to be that people were buying our products so they knew when they could speed up, but today the motivation is different—to know when to slow down,” says CEO John Larson.

It’s no joke. In hard-hit metropolitan Detroit, the number of moving violations issued has increased by at least 50% in 18 communities since 2002—and 11 of those municipalities have seen ticketing increases of 90% or more. State and city officials are pretty open about the strategy, since the state has cut billions of aid to communities in that time. You can’t get blood from a stone (the State of Michigan), but you can get it from Mustang and Camaro owners.

Escort’s newest products integrates global positioning and even navigation applications with traditional fuzz busting tech to alert drivers to where the speedtraps are, as well as where red-light cameras are installed. The company has its own proprietary database of the top-known speed traps based on tickets written.

The new tech also eliminates false beeping from things like garage door openers and the like. Larson says that he might hear 50-60 alerts on a typical drive from Cincinnati to Northern Michigan. With the GPS assisted devices, it’s more like four and they are all legitimate. “There is a big safety aspect to this because if you radar detector is always going off, on top of cellphone distractions, it gets to be overload.”

As Escort’s products are after-market, and there are so many gadgets hitting the market, and only so much space on a dashboard, Larson says a device that incorporates fuzz busting, navigation, blue-tooth and hands free telephony is around the corner.

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