By on December 5, 2007

zr3pkg.jpgIt’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.

[Note: TTAC does not condone dangerous or irresponsible driving.]
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18 Comments on “Escort Laser Shifter ZR3 Review...”


  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    The one thing I’ve noticed with Radar detectors and laser jammers is, at the end of the day, nothing beats just paying attention. Well, not speeding does, but where is the fun in that? Excellent review. Excellent review. Would this system mate up to a Valentine?

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Going to have to look into this once my points fall off next year. Probably looking at $1,000 including radar detector and install? That is a tad steep.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    I discovered a device that is 100% effective against radar or laser. I call it “DTSL”, which stands for “Driving The Speed Limit”. It is a revolutionary device, one that no one has apparently thought to use before. Since I began using DTSL, I have received ZERO speeding tickets.

    I will sell this device for the low price of only 5 payments of $39.95. And, if you order now, I’ll include a nose-hair trimmer – FREE!

  • avatar
    Strippo

    I discovered a device that is 100% effective against radar or laser. I call it “DTSL”, which stands for “Driving The Speed Limit”. It is a revolutionary device, one that no one has apparently thought to use before. Since I began using DTSL, I have received ZERO speeding tickets.

    You should have shopped around. “GWtFoT” is almost as effective (virtually 100% if your ride doesn’t fit a DEA profile) and causes fewer accidents than your approach.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    Speed limits haven’t changed since the stone age, or at least since the man with a red flag out front was fired.

    Except to go down to a lower level at one time.

    Cars HAVE changed, significantly so the car now outdates the speed limit by many many years.

    The “speed kills” rhetoric is another example of a small group trying to impose their will on the rest of us and collecting mega millions of money as traffic fines while they do it.

    Speed doesn’t kill, or even harm you, incompetent untrained drivers do. Especially those that have discovered DTSL, usually about the time they also discover the left lane.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Speed doesn’t kill, or even harm you, incompetent untrained drivers do. Especially those that have discovered DTSL, usually about the time they also discover the left lane.

    I agree, speed does NOT kill. I was simply pointing out that obeying the law is the only sure way to avoid a speeding ticket. I never said I agreed with the speed limits themselves. However, there are some people that don’t need to be driving 10 mph much less 80.

    I assure you I am trained and competent and have always used the lanes properly. Training, or lack thereof, is the problem, not the cars and not the speed.

  • avatar
    phil

    “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’m not sure what you mean by this, you must mean that the COMBINATION of radar detectors/jammers is illegal; radar detectors are completely legal in california. thank god; i kiss my valentine on a regular basis!

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    Speeding has never killed anyone. Its that sudden violent stopping thing that always gets you.

    Strippo…it took me forever to realize that meant “Go With the Flow of Traffic”, not Get With the Fooking Times.

  • avatar
    BlisterInTheSun

    At one time I was actually a certified driving instructor for a federal law enforcement agency, and I have been on tracks around the country in everything from police cruisers to Formula Ford race cars. My experiences with various student drivers from various law enforcement agencies showed me two things: (1) no one is as good as they think, and (2) no one is that good to begin with. I have taken police veterans with 20+ years of experience onto a racing facility and turned the rest of their hair gray, and this happens after they spend a serious amount of time telling me all of the “war stories” they’ve got chasing felons in various scenarios.
    Civilians were even worse. I watched one guy in a 600+ hp Ruf Porsche spend an entire day just trying to find the racing line at a track after listening to him brag about all of the heavy muscle he has owned and “street-raced” over the years.
    It comes down to this, as far as I’m concerned: I just try and drive judiciously, maintain safe following distances, remain alert for events happening at 1000 yards out (like brake lights) and when the speed limit is 25, there usually is a solid reason not to go 30, so I try and contemplate that little factoid before getting frustrated and nailing the throttle. I think that if you do these things, you can enjoy your vehicle and its dynamic qualities without needing to invest in high-tech jammers and laser defeating systems. To that end, I haven’t had a moving violation since 1993, and I frequently drive at least 15-20 mph over the posted speed limits on major highways.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Driving the speed limit is impossible. When I drive in the right lanes of the highway I frequently encounter someone going 10-50 mph below the speed limit. Pulling into the passing lane requires brisk acceleration to avoid being smashed by the barrelling semi or suv, which frequently results in overshooting the speed limit. Also, traffic can at many times move along at 10 mph over. It is quite easy to simply maintain a reasonable following distance and not notice you are going over the speed limit. Of course staying reasonably close to the speed of traffic usually prevents you from being signled out, usually. My 5mph over the limit ticket proves this isn’t a given, though.

  • avatar
    speedlaw

    In a world of unevenly enforced laws and limits that make little sense, gadgets only make the odds slightly better. You can (I have) get tickets when your gadget goes off, saying “get your licence and registration out” if you are first through the trap.

    Having said that, a jammer is a good investment if you do a lot of road work. Most Laser cops try to shoot you as far off as possible. The tickets I fight (professionally) all say between 700-1300 feet distance. At that distance, the jammer gets you five seconds to react. Closer, the jammer may not work, but as the “visual estimate” the cops take is real at 500 feet but a guess at best at 1500, the jammer will assist.

    If you use one, make sure the off switch is near by. Given the way laser works, you want to jam the first attempt or two, but you WANT them to get a reading when you are up close, so that he does not think it’s you-rather his gun.

    Occasionally you will get a cop who looks at his gun quizzically. Or, you’ll be shot with Ka when the laser does not get a reading. Priceless !

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    You know…an easy way to avoid a ticket is to just not stop…

  • avatar
    fallout11

    Thank you for this review, quite helpful.

    Lidar, or laser speed detection, has only been approved “by judicial notice” as a reliable, accurate, and admissible in certain states. Georgia (my home) is one of those, in fact one of the first. In neighboring Alabama, by contrast, Lidar use has not been sanctioned, and is not used.

    After picking up a random tax of $750 for traveling 68mph on a US interstate outside of Atlanta a few years back, I invested in the Escort 8500 detector. It does a commendable job of picking up Laser usage, and has saved my rear end from several expensive laser tickets during that time by giving me a few seconds of warning (which is so far all I have needed).

    As for traveling the legal speed limit on interstate highways within Georgia, I leave you with the following two tidbits:
    1) Accoring to a recent GA D.O.T. poll, over 85% of residents freely admitted to speeding on a regular basis, and 73% admitted to routinely speeding more than 10 miles per hour over the posted (and often bogus) limit. Once you factor in the number who would fess up, that’s basically 9/10 folks. Yet the US Supreme Court (and others) have ruled repeatedly that random enforcement is unconstitutional.
    2) See the student film made by Georgia University students, in which they actually drive at the posted limit (55mph), cars abreast, around the Atlanta perimeter…..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B-Ox0ZmVIU
    http://digg.com/tech_news/Students_follow_highway_s_speed_limit,_hold_up_traffic_for_miles_and_miles
    http://fastermustache.org/node/1053
    Arbitrary and capricious is the definition of injustice.

  • avatar
    fiveoh

    I am currently employed as a Police Officer, and I can give you some insight into what you call “Random Enforcement.”

    In the state of Georgia, for example, the DPS issues permits for the use of Speed Detection Devices.

    The states purpose of all traffic law is to prevent traffic accidents. Not to gain revenue, or meet quota’s (which are also illegal).

    That being said – the DPS issues said permits for roads with high volumes of accidents or other statistics that warrant speed detection. (School Zones, etc, etc.)

    With the basis of the speed detection permit rooted in a pre-existing condition warranting the enforcement of speed, pulling over any vehicle exceeding the limit in that area is no longer “random” enforcement.

    Pulling over a car at 2:30 in the morning when they are the only car on the road and only endangering their ignorant selves may be a different constitutional issue, I don’t disagree with that.

    I can tell you, however, that it’s VERY obvious when someone is using a jammer, and even the best systems do not offer 100% protection.

    Also, about the “confused” Officer, not sure where he works, but you’re lucky.

    If I can’t get a reading, which either means out of range or jammer (easy to discern the difference), that particular vehicle will get special attention.

    I’ve never had to shoot more than two to three times to get a reading, and each reading takes 1-2 seconds depending on the distance and the reflective surfaces available.

    I will also say that after spending a considerable amount of time in Europe where cell phone usage can almost land you in jail – our country and my state (Georgia) is not ready for roads with maximum speed limits over 65 on the highway.

    Most of us could easily run in the triple digits if we so chose without causing any more harm than the next car. But there are too many X-Factors on the road with cell phones, GPS devices, DVD players, etc.

  • avatar
    fallout11

    Tell it to the editor in chief of Edmunds.com.
    http://blogs.edmunds.com/?14@@.ee9c913/0

  • avatar
    dgduris

    I have no problem with a high rate of speed in the right place (limited access roads) and can only hope that – as in my case – increased speed is met with increased concentration on the task at hand.

    But, 15 over in a 35? Mr. Posner, you should be ashamed of yourself!

    Beyond that, I appreciate the rather informative review.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    Will I buy one? No, I only get about 1 ticket per lustrum (2 last year though). But it’s great they are available. I’m glad Officer Fiveoh is an ethical law enforcement offical, but a large proportion of them are just tax collectors in otherwise safe locations.

  • avatar
    fallout11

    In days past, armed fellows waiting on the side of the road to extract revenue or taxation from unwary or unaware travelers were known as highwaymen and bandits.
    Some things never change.


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