Head Out On The Highway
Working well on my daily commute is good, but what about a long highway trip? I helped with radio communications at the NER SCCA Shake the Bugs Out RallySprint at Team O’Neil Rally School, which was also a great opportunity to see how the RLS2 performed on the open road. The two and a half hour drive north in the early morning was almost completely silent. The only radar contact I had was on X-Band as I went under a bridge. There were no police, so I presume this was some sort of traffic measuring device that the Traffic Sensor Filter didn’t filter out. Mark to Mute took care of that one. It’s also worth mentioning that silence is golden if there are no police around, meaning no false alerts.
The trip back was rather quiet too. This time, however, there were some police around. At one point there were a whole bunch of NH State Troopers attending to an accident on the other side of Interstate 93. There was not a peep from the RLS2, presumably because the police were busy dealing with the accident rather than clocking speeds. Later on, Waze alerted me to a speedtrap half a mile away, and sure enough there was a trooper in the median. But the RLS2 was silent. The RLS2 did nothing wrong – this particular trooper had his radar turned off for added stealth. He must’ve been relying on his eyes to identify speeders, ready with radar to make a quick instant-on zap only to document what he saw.
Am I A Believer?
I was quite emphatic before that I didn’t believe in radar detectors. I thought they went off at all the wrong times, didn’t go off at the right times, and cost more money and hassle than they’re worth.
I was wrong.
Sampling K40’s best portable radar detector has been a real eye opener for me. Anti-falsing technology has improved leaps and bounds over the old detectors I used *mumble-mumble* years ago. Once I set up the RLS2 properly, the only false alarms I got were still from traffic-measuring radar, and were worth being alerted about. GPS integration is a feature I had never thought relevant to a radar detector until it made such features as Mark to Mute available. I’m now commuting false alarm free, which is far less distracting than the old detectors where you never knew if they were falsing or not. False alarms are minimal on the highway as well, though you still need to keep your eyes open for traps not running active radar.
Did I find myself driving faster while using the RLS2 than I did with no detector at all? Surprisingly, no. I certainly appreciated the additional level of protection the RLS2 gave me, but other than slowing down for radar alerts, I didn’t notice any real difference in my driving. I’m only one person, an insignificant sample size, but it goes against the conventional wisdom that people with radar detectors speed more.
Once my filters were set up correctly, I found the RLS2 to be more accurate than relying on Waze. On my drive to NH and back, I had many false alerts on Waze, but none from the RLS2. Though it’s also worth pointing out that there have been times Waze warned me of a speedtrap that the RLS2 didn’t, since it wasn’t using radar.
Radar detectors are not a magic bullet to save you from speedtraps. They are NOT police detectors. You can’t ignore speed limits except when the detector goes off and think you won’t get caught. You will, by the cop running laser or instant-on radar, or by the helicopter you don’t see clocking you. K40 does provide a one year ticket-free guarantee, which will pay your speeding ticket during your first year of ownership (unless it’s in a school or construction zone, or part of a DUI – that’s perfectly reasonable). But now I believe that they are a useful tool, as long as your weapon of choice is a modern unit with decent filtering. Waze is still useful, for navigation as well as warning me of hazards other than speedtraps, so I’ll still use it. But a smart driver is still the most important factor. You still need to interpret the information these devices provide, and apply that knowledge correctly. More than anything, it’s important to keep your eyes open, maintain situational awareness, and drive safely, regardless of your speed.