Car and driver radar detector

Escort Max 360 Radar/Laser Detector: Now With Arrows! – News – Car

When it comes to technology, unintended consequences can really bite.

The piece of automotive tech that I rely on most is one that I install myself: an old-school radar detector. While I love a head-up display and appreciate Air Play, a top-tier detector has always been the one thing that I insist on using no matter what. If I'm driving, I've got a detector working.

So I suppose it's only fitting that another piece of new technology is fouling it all up.

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It isn't that law enforcement has significantly upped its game. It's the proliferation of new-age safety sensor systems. According to executives at companies like Escort Inc., the radio band frequencies are suddenly teeming with signals from autos using active lane assist, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking.

These new-age safety aids use the same K and Ka frequencies as law enforcement radar, which make detectors go wild with false alerts. That makes them pretty worthless, or at the least, exceedingly annoying.

I didn't need to get this information from a press release, sadly. My once-beloved Valentine One, widely acknowledged as one of the best radar detectors on the market, has devolved from a nearly faultless unit to a schizophrenic one, shouting shrilly with nary a cop in site. The culprit was usually an Audi Q7 or Mercedes-Benz E-Class, pacing traffic with active cruise control engaged.

The end of the world? Perhaps not, but I have a deep and abiding love of the devices. I've used them for nearly two decades. Invariably a passenger will point to the chunky device in my windshield and ask, "Does that thing really work?" Yes, absolutely. And yes, they give false signals. But like any background noise, you tune out the occasional R2-D2-esque squawk until it emits a certain kind of insistent, steady beep, which invariably means a state trooper lurking around a corner. I know when it's the real thing.


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