Wisconsin State Patrol begins aerial enforcement missions

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(WEAU) NEWS RELEASE -- To crack down on speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors, Wisconsin State Patrol Air Support Unit pilots have started aerial enforcement missions that will continue through the heavily traveled summer months.

To deter speeding, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will announce the dates and locations of many of the aerial enforcement missions in advance on Twitter (@WisconsinDOT, #WisDOT).

The State Patrol Air Support Unit currently has three sergeants, two troopers and an inspector who are licensed pilots. They fly three specially equipped Cessna 172 Skyhawk planes based in Madison, Oshkosh, and Eau Claire. From their airborne vantage point, they can detect speeding, aggressive driving, tailgating, unsafe lane changes and other traffic violations. The pilots communicate the information to officers on the ground for enforcement action. A video explaining how pilots use the Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder (VASCAR) system in the aircraft is available on the WisDOT You Tube site (http://tinyurl.com/kgad4jg).

Last year, the State Patrol Air Support Unit conducted 64 aerial enforcement missions with the following results:
• 2,040 traffic stops
• 1,306 speeding citations—the fastest speeding citation was for 108 mph in a 65 mph zone
• 51 citations for failure to fasten seat belt, and 9 citations for child safety restraint violations
• 1,539 total citations and 942 warnings

In addition, officers made eight criminal drug arrests, one felony arrest and five warrant arrests during aerial enforcement missions last year.

“Aerial enforcement is a valuable traffic safety enforcement tool. From the air, our pilots can identify traffic violations as they occur over an extended distance and expanse of roadways,” says David Pabst, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety. “In addition, pilots can detect traffic violations in areas that are difficult for enforcement by officers on the ground such as construction work zones, no passing zones, and roadways without adequate shoulders or median crossovers for stopped cruisers.”

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