How Radar Detectors Protect Against Red Light Cameras
We find that some are much better at it than others
By Radartest Staff
Last Updated: 2016
Given access to the same technology, there's no reason why companies like Cobra and Whistler couldn't create a good red light camera-defeating radar detector. Trouble is, another company controls the relevant patents—Escort. And aside from its Beltronics division, Escort doesn't share.
This means that while others might add GPS to a detector, to avoid patent infringement they can offer none of the key features afforded by the technology.
Take AutoLearn, for instance. Drive past a local Walmart once and you'll get a K-band alert from the automatic door opener. After driving by two or three times the Escort has locked out the signal and stays quiet. Using GPS it has logged the coordinates and frequency of the signal, storing the data in memory. In subsequent encounters it recognizes the door opener radar and doesn't alert.
In contrast, a Cobra or Whistler will shriek a warning every time you drive past. (Same goes for models from Adaptiv, K40, RMR, Valentine, Early Warning and others.)
The Escort will also advise if a red light camera is dual-role, functioning as full-time speed trap as well watching for red light-runners. Cruising past at extralegal speed won't generate a red light violation—a ticket for speeding arrives in the mail instead. Knowing that a camera is also watching for speed is helpful, but only Escort and Beltronics models share this with a driver. This is one more feature that's off limits to the competition.
Another is speed-variable sensitivity where the microprocessor reduces sensitivity at low speed, limiting false alarms in town. As speed increases, sensitivity rises proportionally, for maximum protection.
Using speed data an Escort can vary camera-warning distance as well. Below about 45 mph, camera alerts begin at 400 feet; at higher speeds the distance rises to 800 feet. Either offers enough advance warning but without unduly pestering the driver with lingering alerts.
Cobras also vary the onset of alerts according to vehicle speed. But these begin at a far greater distance. At 65 mph and above, a visual alert begins at about 2,900 feet. When the distance closes to about 1,200 feet an audible alert sounds. At 45 mph an alert begins at 1,900 feet, followed by an audible alert at the same 1,200-foot mark regardless of speed. These distances are about triple what's needed and make for alerts that seem to last forever.
Combined, these features are the secret to the camera-defeating effectiveness shown by most Escorts and BELs. In back-to-back comparisons with the Cobras and Whistlers, Escort's technology is clearly more effective.
High-end models from Escort and BEL also have software that helps to combat nuisance alerts triggered by Blind Spot Warning systems and traffic flow-monitoring radar. All of these share the K-band frequency with police radar and their signals look legit to every detector. The problem has become so intense that some drivers are disabling K band to quell the din.