It’s a never-ending battle between speeders and the police. Since the e-wars began, the police have moved from simple X-Band radar-based speed detectors to sophisticated KA-band radar guns, radar detector detectors (no really) and laser speed detection devices (with charming names like Stalker LZ-1). While the best consumer radar detectors can sniff out X and KA-band signals from a long way off—before the signal can bounce back to Officer Not So Friendly—if your laser beam detector goes off, tag, you’re it. If you’re speeding (which you probably do as you’re reading a laser jammer review), you’ve been nabbed.
FYI, police speed detection lasers or LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) fires light pulses at an object at about 984 million feet per second or roughly 1 foot per nanosecond. The pulses bounce off the (theoretically) offending vehicle and return to the laser device. Its optical sensors receive the returning photons or waves (let’s not get into THAT debate), compares outgoing and returning light (in about a third of a second) and calculates the object’s speed.
“Normal” radar guns send out a relatively wide beam of radio waves and use Christian Doppler’s observed effect to ascertain the fastest vehicle within that beam. Laser guns are far more accurate; at a thousand feet, the laser “cone” is roughly 3 feet in diameter.
Luckily (for you), laser guns have drawbacks. First, they’re a fair weather device; laser beams abhor a rainstorm. Second, unlike KA-Band radar, a laser gun must be stationary and aimed directly at the [theoretical] speeder. This eliminates in-car mobile use. On the positive side (for them), laser is ideal for roadside speed detection. The tickets practically write themselves.
Other than buying a low-slung black car and covering it with high tech non-reflective materials, there’s only way to defeat a laser speed detector: active jamming. We’re talking about a device that reacts to a police laser beam by sending out its own laser beam, shifting the spectrum of the returning light, rendering it unrecognizable to the laser gun’s optical sensors. Yes, it’s a high tech shoot-out at the photon coral.
A quick note about legality . . .
The Federal Communications Commission prohibits civilian use of police frequencies; sending out a signal on these frequencies to mess with a police radar gun is a HUGE no-no. Banning civilians from using a part of God’s own light spectrum is a lot more problematic. That said, the Food and Drug Administration regulates laser devices—from a personal safety rather than a road safety perspective. Nebraska, Minnesota, Utah, California, Oklahoma, Virginia, Colorado, Illinois and Washington DC are the only states/district that bans the use of radar detectors AND laser jammers for “interfering with police business.”
I tested the Escort Laser Shifter ZR3, an active laser jammer that can be used as a standalone solution or in conjunction with Escort’s high end 8500 and 9500 radar/laser detectors. The Laser Shifter ZR3 comes complete with a comprehensive owner’s manual, installation instructions, two front laser transceivers, one rear laser transceiver, in-car display controller, remote mute button, 12-volt interface with modular connections, complete wiring harnesses, mounting hardware and a link cable for connecting to the Passport 8500, 7500S and SR7, and the Solo2.
The kit requires lots of wiring and drilling; professional installation is a must. The test car spent the entire day at a local installer, who hid the front transceivers in the front grill, and the rear transceiver on the top of the license plate frame. The finished job cost $250.
I coupled the Escort ZR3 with an Escort 8500i and ran a few real world tests at known speed traps.
On each pass, the Passport 8500’s laser detector noted the laser presence and instantly activated the jammer. The confused look on the officer’s face as I drove by [probably] confirmed that the laser jammer [probably] prevented his laser gun from registering our speed, which may have been approximately 15mph over the 35mph limit.
The results lend credence to the video hosted on youtube. This test shows the ZR3’s jamming capability against a Prolaser II Police Lidar Gun, from the police perspective trials at radartest.com who found that the Escort ZR3 was nearly perfect—providing a 99% efficiency rating. The ZR3 an excellent investment to reduce exposure from laser based tickets. Coupled with an Escort radar detector, a user will have a one device system covering all potential radar detection systems.
The Escort ZR3 costs $499. Given the cost of speeding tickets, points and insurance increases, anyone with a lead foot whose local police use laser guns will find it a worthwhile investment. That said, the new and [thankfully] rare Laser Atlanta Type S in [thankfully rarely used] Stealth Mode defeats the Escort ZR3. Yes, the battle between poachers and the gamekeeper continues.