This article is reprinted with permission from an actual customer of Rocky Mountain Radar
I made a big mistake buying and relying on radar/laser detector/scrambler products.
That’s right, “products” is plural.
I’ve purchased three systems, thus compounding my mistakes in the face of evidence that I was being foolish and spent loads of money.
My Opinion Clearly and Unequivocally
A radar jammer did absolutely nothing to lower my risk of getting radar tickets. Multiple independent reports confirm the products do not work.
Three Tickets in Two Years
I’ve had three radar speeding tickets in two years, in spite of having the Phantom II and later the 302 unit installed and on. Bit by bit, I have poured $1600+ down the drain.
I’m now driving slower, with a top-of-the-line high performance radar detector (Passport) and higher vehicle insurance.
My 1st Mistake: I bought one
When I first ran across the passive radar “scramblers,” I thought I had found secret technology to use against police speed radar guns to avoid tickets.
Unfortunately, I could find absolutely no independent test results or reviews on the web. The units were sold only through a few schlocky-looking e-commerce sites, where they quoted unnamed happy customers and comments from astonished radar experts, but no major car magazines. Reputable electronics dealers and car magazines were silent about the products.
It was a reserved well-kept secret, as secret weapons should be. Right?
So I buy a passive Phantom “radar scrambler.”
Mistake number one, approximately $300.
I’d used Bel and Escort Passport radar detectors for many years, dating back to the chunky original Cincinnati Microwave Escort. I had developed effective habits for driving with a detector, and in recent years I had gotten, on average, no more than a ticket every 2-3 years.
At first, I continued to drive using these instinctive habits, Eventually I got bold about being out in front of traffic at speed.
I really wanted to believe, and a few incidents convinced me it worked. But without the Phantom, I would have viewed those incidents as normal luck.
Every once in a while, people sail through what seems like a speed trap and don’t get stopped, for any of a dozen different reasons, none of which have anything to do with their electronic gadgets.
My 2nd Mistake: I bought an “upgrade”
Shortly after buying, I started getting postcards offering to trade in my Phantom for the advanced Phantom II for about half price, I order the new unit.
The unit was said to be more powerful with greater range, and had some added accessories, better display and features, like laser detection. I upgraded to the Phantom II.
Mistake number two, approximately $250.
My 3rd Mistake: I thought I was invisible
One bright, clear day I was driving down a remote freeway two counties from home, enjoying the empty highway and sunshine. I was miles from nowhere. There wasn’t another car in sight.
Then there was one brief (less than one second) Ka audio signal from the jammer as a patrol car crested the hill about 1000 feet away. I made sure my speed was legal, well before we met.
But I was invisible, anyway. Right? Wrong.
Mistake number three. $105 fine.
The eager officer skidded to a halt, almost hit the jersey barrier trying to make an abrupt U-turn and catch me. He wrote me at 13 over, meaning he had gotten a quick reading of my speed.
Rocky Mountain Radar Responds
I called Rocky Mountain Radar and confronted them with this data. The girl who answered the phone listened impatiently to my questions and concerns. Then she explained that the officer hadn’t gotten a reading, that he had lied about having me on radar. She said they always pick an odd speed, to make it seem more plausible.
Had the trooper just luckily guessed my speed, and lied about having radar proof and violated my rights? If so, maybe an attorney could find a flaw in the case and get me off the ticket. More on this in a moment…
My 4th Mistake: I bought a “BETTER” upgrade
Within a week, I got a postcard offering me an upgrade to a new detector/scrambler with VG2 and VG3. It finally added some of the missing features and detects bands commonly found in even the oldest and cheapest detectors.
It was supposedly even more powerful at completely scrambling radar. I upgraded.
Mistake number four, approximately $175.
The Laser Trap
One day I saw six or seven motorcycle troopers running a laser sting operation. They were raking in the dough, with troopers lined up in the median to chase speeders. One operated the laser gun, and the next-in-line with the black and white patrol car, chased each criminal down.
I turned around and pulled off on the shoulder, upstream, in plain sight of the operation. I moved the jammer to a high position on my windshield, left it on, pointed directly at the laser gun, and watched, chuckling to myself.
My Chuckles Turned to Frowns
Not only did the jammer never report the presence of the laser signals, it apparently had zero effect on the revenue operation in front of me.
I watched fast cars go past me, get clocked, and get chased down. They were dropping like flies.
My laser detector-jammer was mute and useless.
My 5th Mistake: I thought I was invisible again
I went home and looked for an attorney to get me off the Apple County speeding ticket and to save my license, the one where Radar Dealer said the officer was lying.
The local attorneys turned out to be totally cowed by the county court. I hired one who would take the case.
Mistake number five, approximately a $500 check.
He negotiated a deal wherein I paid double the fine to have the ticket dropped from my record after a year of good behavior.
How hard could it be to behave myself? And besides, if I were to inadvertently let my speed creep up, I had the new jammer, supposedly making me more invisible than ever.
My 6th Mistake: I let 1000’s of false alerts lull me
A year went by, with no tickets.
Then, as if to mark the anniversary, I got a ticket in a waterfront suburb of Seattle. While driving to the town library, in heavy traffic, the radar detector sounded the usual false alarm.
False alerts were frequent with my jammers. I ignored it.
Mistake number six, $152 fine.
The motorcycle cop sauntered up to my window, radar gun in hand, and showed me my speed.
Add a $375 attorney fee.
Rocky Mountain Radar Responds
I called the Rocky Mountain Radar and confronted them again with this new data.
The girl who answered the phone told me my problem: the unit was mounted too close to the hood. (It was mounted where the instructions suggested, just above the dash, about six inches above the level of the hood.) She explained that the “mirage effect” of sunshine hitting my hood was interfering with the unit’s ability to scramble radar.
I repeatedly asked, several different ways, for a clarification of how light waves interfere with K Band radar waves, when microwaves are hardly even in the same spectrum as visible light.
She repeated her explanation, obviously reading it from a script, because it never changed, except for her mounting frustration with me for not swallowing the line.
I asked to talk to a technician, who contradicted her, saying that the box should be mounted exactly where I had it. But he would not address the conflicting information or the issue of “mirages.”
Whether my jammer had ever scrambled radar was no longer of any concern to me. I had two tickets in 13 months, with a scrambler operational on my windshield, and it had done absolutely nothing to protect me.
I was convinced this was nothing more than a cheap radar detector mixed with good old-fashioned snake oil.
My 7th Mistake: I used my jammer as a radar detector only
I really had to watch my speed now, in part because Apple County Court determined the 13+ months between tickets did not satisfy my 12-month good behavior requirement, and put the ticket on my record, anyway.
At least the jammer was still a functional radar detector. Good radar detectors like my old Escort and Passport had provided adequate coverage all those years before the “scrambler.”
I decided to keep the jammer in the car and use it as a radar detector, just not expect it to scramble anything.
Mistake number seven, $76 fine.
Cruising down a country highway, in Apple County again, I passed from a 60 zone into a 50 zone, and Pop, another ticket. The 302 warned me only when the oncoming trooper was about 700 feet away, not before.
The trooper told me he clocks every oncoming car, and that it’s a common practice. I know there were cars within a mile in front of me, because they had passed me moments before. Their radar detectors obviously worked much better than radar “jammer.”
The claim in radio commercials and in online and automotive magazine ads, that the radar jammer dealers and manufactures are so confident in their product’s effectiveness, that they include a free one year ticket rebate program, in which will pay any ticket you receive for one full year.
The catch is that so many restrictions apply with their “No more tickets rebate” you will never get a dime. Even if are lucky enough to meet all the obligations in their fine print, you will only get $100.00 back from your $300.00 purchase.
The Experts Speak
I went back online to the web to look again for independent test reports on any Radar Jammer products, and I found plenty this time.
Reputable sources agree with my experience – that the Radar Jammer devices are worthless for jamming, and inferior for detecting, either radar or laser.
Why are these companies still in business? Because people are gullible, myself not the least among them.
Law enforcement is never going to go after these companies, because they are doing them a favor.
Don’t make the same shopping mistakes I made. Every reliable report I can find says Passive radar/laser detector/scramblers do not work, and
I totally agree.
What’s the Answer?
Now that I have three tickets on my record, I’ve decided my only radar defense is to drive within the speed limit, but even that’s not a sure thing.
My experience with certain officers and courts have shown me that the law is in their hands. You might have a great detector, you might have the ultimate jammer, you might even drive the speed limit. But if they decide you’re speeding, it’s your word against theirs, and you’ll be paying a fine.
As one attorney told me, “the judge always assumes the defendant’s testimony is self-serving, and disregards it.” Another said of Apple County District Court, “The case is decided when the ticket is written.”
Whatever happened to that ultimate weapon of speeding drivers, the CB radio? It was so simple — an ad hoc community of drivers anonymously helping each other — and so effective!
Risk Rises with Speed
One other note before we part… Safety is used as a justification for enforcing with radar, but speed traps are usually positioned on mundane stretches of open road across the USA.
Too many drivers slow down in dangerous areas, leaving the cops with no one to stop, which hurts revenues. Thus the absence of a speed trap is not a sign that it’s safe to drive fast.
Even at the speed limit, we drivers are responsible for our own safety.
At higher speeds, the risk goes up, and the responsibility does not go down.
Have fun, and watch out for yourself.