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Using Tech to Avoid a Speeding Ticket

Using Tech to Avoid a Speeding Ticket
  Disclaimer:We want to make something clear right from the start and that is we are the last people to ever condone breaking the law by exceeding the speed limit. On the other hand, as realists we recognize the fact that sometimes the letter of the law supersedes the spirit of the law for example, for those times when you might find yourself out driving in the middle of the desert without another soul in sight where the speed limit is stated at 65 mph, a radar detector might prevent you from getting a ticket for going a little over the limit. We also feel that there are municipalities where the line between law enforcement and revenue generation gets blurred. For these and other rare occasions, we offer a roundup of products that could someday help you avoid an unjustified ticket. Keep in mind that some of these devices are illegal in states including VA, Washington D.C, U.S. Military bases and many foreign countries.  
The State of Radar and LIDAR Guns and DetectorsThe state-of-the-art in speed limit enforcement devices is called LIDAR which bounces a tightly focused laser beam off a reflective part of a vehicle like a license plate or headlight. Radar is still in common use especially on moving police vehicles however newer radar guns use the K and Superwide Ka band which offer longer range and greater accuracy than the older X band which is the one commonly used by devices like automatic garage doors and is used less often by police. Radar and LIDAR detectors are engineering marvels when you consider what they have to do. Radar guns not only use many different frequencies but they also shoot short bursts of radio waves which can be difficult to detect. Radar detectors are constantly scanning for different radar frequencies while trying to differentiate between spurious signals and the real ones from police radar guns. Although most radar detectors include LIDAR detection, LIDAR is very difficult to detect before it’s too late especially if you are the only one on the road. The beam is very narrow so there is very little “scattered” signal to detect and is only present during momentary bursts. The latest move by the detector manufacturers is to enlist its community of users to provide alerts to other motorists via their smartphones.
ESCORT Redline; The Long Range King of the Hill
Receiving more advance warning, providing you more time to reduce your speed can be a big advantage and the ESCORT Redline is the undisputed leader in that department with reports of radar detection as much as 14 miles away which may be more warning than you actually need. The Redline uses twin forward facing antennas for better sensitivity. Rear facing antennas are generally unnecessary because radar coming from behind reflects off of objects ahead to be picked up by the detector. The Redline offers a bright red LED matrix display which users say is very readable even in direct sunlight. Reviewers say the Redline produces fewer false alarms and ESCORTs “TotalShield” feature makes the Redline undetectable to radar detector detectors (RDDs). Unlike some other radar detectors, the Redline does not incorporate a GPS which can be very helpful for logging false alarm locations. The Redline can however be used with the new ESCORT Live product which provides some that same functionality.
ESCORT Live! Adds Smartphone ConnectivityESCORT Live! is a relatively new product that works with many ESCORT and Bel radar detectors. It costs about $100 and provides a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone which runs the ESCORT app and lets you display an alert which can be shared with other users. Live! can also automatically transmit alerts from radar and LIDAR detections that are then shared with other Live! members. The service requires a monthly $4.99 or $49.99 annual fee. Users say when it works, it’s great but participation can be sketchy and it sounds like the app may still have a few wrinkles.
Radar Detectors With Built-In GPS
GPS-based radar detectors can tell you when you’re approaching a red light or speed camera based on a database of these and other types of things drivers might want to be aware of. Because GPS-enabled radar detectors can tell what speed you are going they can reduce sensitivity at low speed driving to minimize false alarms in urban areas. Devices with this feature include the $529 Passport 9500ix and its less expensive twin sister and successor to the popular Bel GX65, the $429 BEL Pro 500 (ESCORT owns Beltronics). Push the mute button three times and the “TrueLock” on the Passport and BEL Pro stores the location of a false alarm source like an automatic door opener so it won’t sound an alert the next time you drive by it. The Passport also has an “AutoLearn” mode that logs the locations of false alarms automatically. The Cobra XRS-9970G includes a GPS module and can be purchased for under $200 with a lifetime subscription to the AURA red light camera/speed trap database. The Cobra gets high marks from users but doesn’t fare quite as well in expert reviews as the Passport or BEL Pro.
The Latest Detectors Work With Your Smartphone
Both Cobra and ESCORT now offer radar detectors with remote displays and smartphone apps. These detectors connect to your Android or iPhone through Bluetooth and use an app to receive and share alerts from a community of users. The Cobra iRadar 200 costs around $129 but gets mixed reviews from users while ESCORT’s SmartRadar for iPhone ($425) and Android ($449) get much higher marks. These devices are intended to be mounted behind your rear view mirror but require a power cord which could be awkward. The SmartRadar devices offer a remote display unit and work with your smartphone and the ESCORT Live! collaborative network through a smartphone app.
Speed Trap Detection From Crowdsourced Collaborators
Before the dawn of collaborative intelligence devices, drivers used to warn fellow motorists of “Smokey” sightings through CB radios and headlight flashing which, by the way, in Florida, was just deemed to be legal under the first amendment. Along with the latest community connected radar detectors, come the apps where users can share alerts with other users. Waze is a free app that received a boost recently as an alternative to the problematic Apple maps. We imagine this also helped grow its community. Waze is a navigation app that incorporates real-time user data and alerts into route recommendations and notifications. We hear it works better in more populated areas which is true for any of the collaborative motorist alerting products. Another popular free app is trapster that not only maintains a database of known red light cameras and speed traps but enlists its community (18M downloads) of users to add real-time information that gets “pushed” to users’ devices. In addition, trapster will also tell you about other things including the locations of EV charging stations, road hazards, accidents and more.
Drive Safely, Use Retrevo and Keep on Truckin’
Once again, we think the best course of action would be to drive safely and observe the traffic laws however as gadget enthusiast we can’t help being interested in these devices and thought you'd be interested too and even though radar detectors are illegal in some states, it’s never against the law to detect the best deals in electronics so don’t forget to check out Retrevo where you’ll find reviews and manuals for all the latest gadgets.

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