How Much Should I Spend for a Radar Detector?
The true cost of protection from radar, lasers and other threats
by Radartest Staff
Speed cameras like this Redflex unit in Mesa, Arizona increase rear-end collisions while failing to lower speeds or alter driver behavior.
We frequently get questions from people seeking the best radar detector. For example, recently a man from California called to ask about the best radar detector for use by him and wife. From his Zip code we know that his town has Redflex red light cameras and that the local California Highway Patrol cruisers pack Stalker radar. Also, the nearby City of Poway a few months back had received a Dept. of Justice grant for Stalker MDR radar and LTI UltraLyte LR 200 lasers.
We suggested a GPS-enabled model, the Escort Passport Max 360, the most effective technology when facing this smorgasbord of enforcement threats. There was a pause when the subject of price arose. "Nothing cheaper, huh?" he asked.
Sure there are a few less expensive models, we told him, but they're not nearly as good: they false-alarm constantly, their camera databases are years out of date and most failed to warn of many of the cameras when we ran an 18-month test to check these for accuracy. He could save some bucks but he'd still be at risk—meanwhile the detector would drive him nuts with false alarms. Was it worth it?
Turns out it may not be: both he and his wife had recently been nailed by local red light cameras. The upfront cost: $816 in fines. (He hadn't yet totaled the insurance surcharges but expects to shell out another grand over the next three years as a result.)
And he was concerned about the extra couple of hundred bucks for the best GPS-enabled radar detector? It's the same story everywhere. There is more radar, laser and photo enforcement today than ever before and it's being used to cast a huge net over American drivers. Only the smartest of the bunch will avoid becoming ensnared—and most of them will be packing a high-end detector. It can't be done on the cheap: reliable protection costs some bucks.
When you're up against the latest radar, that $75 detector won't make a peep if you cruise past a photo radar van. And if the trooper is using his radar in instant-on mode, as is typical, don't expect advance warning. When the detector alerts, the game is already over.
How much protection do you need? All you can afford; it's that simple. Figure on at least three C-notes for a good windshield-mount model like the Escort Passport and more for a GPS-enabled model like the Escort Passport Max2. For the budget-minded there are a few under-$250 models that offer adequate protection.
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