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Thread: Law enforcement on highways from the sky!

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Old Fox's Avatar
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    Default Law enforcement on highways from the sky!

    I came across a very interesting article (dated way back at April 2007) written by an auto-jurno from caranddriver.com who spent a day with the airborne division of the Ohio Traffic Police as they caught speedsters and other dangerous drivers from above. The method is simple. The Traffic Cop cum Pilot of the Cessna Skylane 182T observer aircraft flies the plane over a highway and carries a stop watch with him. The road below has enforcement zones marked by white spripes at the edges of the tarmac that denote the beginning and the end of the zone which is exactly a quarter mile long (1320 ft). In a 65 MPH zone a vehicle covering the distance between the markers in 13 seconds or more is within the speed limits. Lesser than 13 seconds means it is over-speeding. See pic below for an idea of what it is like from above.




    On freeways, the white speed stripes are painted at 1320-foot intervals on the berms. On two-lane highways, the stripes are in the middle of the road. For some reason, drivers routinely ignore them.


    The same markers are also used to gauge whether one vehicle is following the other dangerously close to it. Tailgating at even 60 MPH can prove very dangerous indeed. This is how it is done:

    Nailing the tailgaters is slightly trickier. Hartge first computes the speed of the lead vehicle. Then he starts the watch when the rear bumper of the lead vehicle crosses a white line and stops the watch when the front bumper of the following vehicle crosses the same line. At 65 mph, if the tailgater is a car length behind — 13 feet is considered the average car length — the interval will be less than 0.14 second, which is the quickest that Hartge, even with 10 years of practice, can start and stop his watch. But the pilots are authorized to call off tailgaters who are 0.5 second behind — about 50 feet at 65 mph. "Actually, I don't personally seek those at half a second," he says, "because so many are traveling closer.

    In the words of the pilot catching offenders from up above is a different thing altogether from doing so on the ground:

    Of course, it's nothing personal," he says, "but people always feel I've done 'em wrong. So I explain that this is the fairest way. I observe your driving history for at least 1320 feet and often an entire mile. Laser or radar just shows what you were doing in a snapshot, one instant. You can't say to me, 'Oh, I accidentally speeded up for a moment while adjusting my mirrors,' or, 'I had to go fast for a sec to pass that dump truck.' If that's honestly what you did, I'd have seen it and wouldn't have called you off. From up here, I don't know if the driver is a pretty girl or an old man. I don't know if the car is a jacked-up drag racer or a Lexus. I don't know if it has rude bumper stickers or whether it's a rusty clunker with bald tires, or if it's got a gun rack, or if it's running six radar detectors, or if it's got decals saying, 'I Contribute to the Fraternal Order of Police.' The driver could be a fellow trooper, a relative, or my best neighbor. From up here, there's nothing that can prejudice me against a driver except his driving.

    I am reproducing a short excerpt from this rather long article, a portion that gives you the gist of the actual thing. but the full article makes for some very interesting reading.

    Trooper Scott Hartge and I are banking hard to the left in a shiny black-and-gold Cessna Skylane 182T. We're at 2200 feet, flying 100-knot circles over a measured mile of Route 23, just north of Circleville, Ohio. On the pavement below, white stripes clearly denote four quarter-mile stretches, or "enforcement zones."



    "Check out that green car," Hartge instructs over the headphones. "See, he's passing that big clump of traffic, just now entering the first quarter-mile." Hartge starts one of his Robic stopwatches but, less than 14 seconds later, says, "Well, that's only 65 in a 55 zone, so we'll kick him loose." But he's already started a second watch on a red pickup with a white van hard on its bumper. "Sixty-eight on the pickup - 13.2 seconds - and an identical 68 on the van," Hartge calls out, then clocks them both through a second quarter-mile. As they enter the final quarter, Hartge says, "I got the white van trailing oh-two-five [that is, 0.25 second behind the pickup truck]. That's about two car lengths - too close. Gotta call this guy off," he says, which is cop lingo for call him in, not let him go.

    Still holding both stopwatches, still flying the Cessna, still watching both vehicles below, still scanning for a nearby 1100-foot radio tower, and still occasionally talking to traffic controllers at Port Columbus International Airport, Hartge now toggles the radio to notify our "ground troop" - a cop in a white Crown Vic who's waiting on the berm below, a half-mile beyond the enforcement zone.



    Speeders are stopped as far as a mile beyond the final set of white stripes in a speed zone. There they are greeted by a “ground troop” who usually simply holds up a flat palm as an order to stop. Rarely do drivers disobey, but almost all are mystified by how anyone could have observed them speeding.


    "You'll see a yellow commercial [an 18-wheeler]," Hartge explains to the intercepting officer, "followed by two black passenger cars, then the red pickup - now about eight seconds behind you, now seven, six, five - and it's the white van you'll want, right behind the red pickup."

    "Affirm," says the trooper below, who lights up all his cruiser's strobes, then climbs out. He waves the red pickup past but raises a flat palm to the white van immediately behind. Its driver pulls over. Via radio, Hartge confirms that the trooper has nabbed the correct vehicle.

    The driver of the red pickup will likely never know he was just clocked from Cloud Nine going 68 in a 55 zone - a $130 fine. That's because he got off scot-free. "It's the van with the FTC [following too closely] that's a bigger deal," explains Hartge. "Way more dangerous than his speed." Sure enough, the trooper below writes up the van for tailgating - $110 - and simply warns its driver about his velocity.

    While the ticket is being written, Hartge circles so tightly above the Crown Vic that my stomach begins doing flips. "We like to hang close to make sure the offender doesn't do something weird or run," he explains, which happens mostly when the violator is drunk, has felony warrants, or is driving a stolen car. Meanwhile, Hartge is writing down the particulars of an offense that he, not the cop beneath us, witnessed. He's noting time, zone number, stopwatch number, weather, vehicle description, times through the quarter-miles (a single quarter-mile will suffice in court, but Hartge usually gets three or all four), lane occupied, direction of travel, and other details he'll log in case the driver wants to tell it to the judge. But only two to three percent ever do.

    When the officer below walks back to his cruiser, Hartge knows the situation is cool, and we fly back to the start of the measured mile. On the way, he points to an ambulance hustling along and clocks him through a lone quarter. "If he's not on a call," says Hartge, "he's fair game, too. Hey, I'm an equal-opportunity employer."

    The entire story can be read here:

    Busted from Cloud Nine - Feature - Car and Driver


    And a nice pic to end this on a high note!!






    Last edited by Old Fox; 02-15-2014 at 12:38 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Law enforcement on highways from the sky!

    Very good post and initiative by American troopers.
    But I don't want anything like that in India. Hehehe
    The last pic took away my breath for a sec,

    ------------------------ Shaaed~~Azam Bhagat Singh Ji.
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    Shaaed~~Azam Bhagat Singh Ji.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagat_Singh.

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    Default Re: Law enforcement on highways from the sky!

    Nice find @Old Fox sir

    An expensive but interesting way for enforcing the speed limit. However I am curious as to the nature of the evidence submitted to court, while the time for every quarter mile is noted, is there a video record for the same too or is it just that the cops word is the final word?

    Also any idea about the advantages of this method over the conventional methods

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    Default Re: Law enforcement on highways from the sky!

    Interesting Post....

    Imagine the so called biker {crazy Hooligans} riding rashly and this helicopter bombarding at them... lol...
    Always back your bike into the curb and sit where you can see it.

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    Rusted nirvaana's Avatar
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    Default Re: Law enforcement on highways from the sky!

    In India we need more education and application than policing at present. I have not seen any initiative whatsoever from the officials so far.
    Contribute to the environment.

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    Super Moderator Old Fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Law enforcement on highways from the sky!

    Quote Originally Posted by snehithpereira View Post
    Nice find @Old Fox sir

    An expensive but interesting way for enforcing the speed limit. However I am curious as to the nature of the evidence submitted to court, while the time for every quarter mile is noted, is there a video record for the same too or is it just that the cops word is the final word?

    Also any idea about the advantages of this method over the conventional methods
    The answers are all in the complete article itself. For example on your question about the kind of evidence submitted in court:

    Meanwhile, Hartge is writing down the particulars of an offense that he, not the cop beneath us, witnessed. He's noting time, zone number, stopwatch number, weather, vehicle description, times through the quarter-miles (a single quarter-mile will suffice in court, but Hartge usually gets three or all four), lane occupied, direction of travel, and other details he'll log in case the driver wants to tell it to the judge. But only two to three percent ever do.

    And as for the advantages: no scope for personal bias, the driver has no means of knowing he/she is being clocked, the offense is tracked for a consistent trend rather than a snapshot in time as with laser or radar and inclusion of other offenses apart from just speeding like tailgating, driving aggressively etc that an on-ground cop would find hard to detect. In the words of the pilot cop:

    I observe your driving history for at least 1320 feet and often an entire mile. Laser or radar just shows what you were doing in a snapshot, one instant. You can't say to me, 'Oh, I accidentally speeded up for a moment while adjusting my mirrors,' or, 'I had to go fast for a sec to pass that dump truck.' If that's honestly what you did, I'd have seen it and wouldn't have called you off. From up here, I don't know if the driver is a pretty girl or an old man. I don't know if the car is a jacked-up drag racer or a Lexus. I don't know if it has rude bumper stickers or whether it's a rusty clunker with bald tires, or if it's got a gun rack, or if it's running six radar detectors, or if it's got decals saying, 'I Contribute to the Fraternal Order of Police.' The driver could be a fellow trooper, a relative, or my best neighbor. From up here, there's nothing that can prejudice me against a driver except his driving."

    Expensive? So are the fines. Imagine $130 for doinng 68 MPH in a 55 MPH zone and $110 for tailgating someone and that all in 2007 dollars! The figures given in the article also reveal the cost effectivity:

    For the past few years, Ohio's planes have averaged 23,000 to 30,000 annual "enforcements." That is, they've caused that many vehicles to be stopped, whose driver may or may not have been ticketed but was, at a minimum, "interviewed" by a state trooper, a city cop, or a county mountie. Ohio's aviation division costs less per year to operate than any single one of its 55 regional posts.

    This article at the link below debates the effectivity of the method though in some detail.

    "Speed limit enforced by aircraft": Do police really do that?
    snehithpereira likes this.
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