How to Defend Yourself Against Photo Radar
Which radar detectors can spot the new photo radar vans?
By Radartest staff
Last updated: 2016
After our test against the latest photo radar (mobile speed camera) technology, two things are clear: 1) Most radar detectors give little advance warning of it and, 2) There are some exceptions, but you won't find them in the closeout bin at Sam's Club.
Despite advances in detection, the latest photo radar is a low-powered K-band unit that's exceptionally difficult to detect. Most detectors can't spot it from across a six-lane freeway.
It's been a couple of years since our last test against photo radar and now that this new pulsed radar is popping up like mushrooms around areas like Phoenix, we felt it was time for a rematch.
We tested a mix of mid-priced and high-end models, focusing on GPS-enabled units and on those we knew from past tests are unusually hot K-band performers. Retail prices ranged from about $300 to $500. Since the target vehicle had an Escort Passport SRX custom-installed unit already built-in, we recorded its score as well, but only for comparison purposes. Here's what we found.
Of the non-GPS group, the Escort Redline proved to be the best protection you can buy against this K-band photo radar, delivering 1,220 feet of warning distance. It was followed closely by the Valentine One at 1,196 feet and the Beltronics RX65 (1,178 feet). Another BEL, the STi Magnum trailed its Pro-Series sibling by a few percentage points.
Among GPS-enabled radar detectors the BEL (Beltronics) GX65 and Escort Passport 9500ix both delivered good range, upward of twice that of the competing Cobra XRS R10G and the XRS 9960G (an updated XRS 9950 that's the subject of an earlier test and review.)
At less than 500 feet, on average, under optimal conditions—about 4.5 seconds of warning at 75 mph—drivers packing one of these Cobras would need to remain on high alert and react instantly to warnings.
Study the scores and it's clear that this is one threat where an otherwise-capable detector can't help much. You'll need a detector with outstanding performance to counter this type of stealth radar.