Radar Detectors Cutting-Edge Enough to Match Your Supercar
So you spent six figures and now you’ve finally got your dream car. Six hundred horsepower. Zero to 60 mph in 3 seconds. Curves that make you bite your thumb and hold your breath.
It’s perfect. And it’s going to get you plenty of attention.
Especially from cops.
“There are so many ways to get a ticket these days,” says Tim Coomer, the vice president for product development at Escort, a company that develops technology to prevent traffic tickets. “Between radar detectors and laser guns and aircraft and red-light cameras, so many municipalities are looking to generate new revenue.”
We were driving in a Bentley Continental convertible up near Westchester yesterday, testing out his new $599 Escort Passport MAX2. It’s the “mac daddy” of radar detectors, he says, able to detect radar from 13 miles away, jam lasers, and track every red-light camera across the country. And there are plenty of opportunities for that: Traffic tickets in this country are a $6 billion industry. More than 4 million are issued each year.
I had presumed a device of this nature would be illegal, but Coomer quickly corrected me. Turns out radar detectors are legal in every state except Virginia and the District of Columbia. Laser-jamming technology is illegal in more states than that (Illinois, Texas, California, to name a few) but legal in others (Oregon, Arizona, Maine, New York).
They’ve been prominent for civilians since the 1970s, but back then they were big black boxes splayed with curlicue cords and sticky, ill-fitting, suction-cup attachments. Decidedly unsexy, and kinda prominent.
That’s the beauty of progress. Today’s devices are slim—about the size of a Samsung mobile phone, and an inch thick—and can run on battery power or a single USB cord. Or better yet, you can have them installed directly in your car so you don’t have to look at any black box at all. (Escort will sell you an in-car bespoke device for about $2,000.)
They work by emitting a sharp beep if they detect radar and show bars on a screen that indicate how closely the radar—or laser—is located. They’ll even memorize spots that give false positives, such as the radar-activated automatic revolving doors in some big hotels. This is a big step up.
The Escort devices also come with an app, Escort Live, and this is where they set themselves apart. Everyone else using the same gadget shares their info with you, if you want it. It's like Waze just for speed traps. (Waze itself shares speed traps, too, among other hazards.) The app is free for the first year but then requires a subscription. You can also get the radar alerts synced with your Apple watch, if you have one, which comes in especially handy for people riding motorcycles.
Or for those who just happen to like cool new stuff to go along with their cool new car.