You’ve probably seen the signs – “Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft” – when traveling down Interstate 64 (I-64), Interstate 264 (I264) and other heavily traveled highways. However, due to the downtrodden economy, Virginia State Police decided to end aerial monitoring of traffic throughout the Commonwealth, according to The Virginian-Pilot. The program has been in place for nine years and traffic accidents have decreased during that time.
Did aerial monitoring play a part in this decrease of car accident fatalities? Maybe. There’s really no way to be sure, but the program probably didn’t hurt. When people are speeding and see a sign saying there’s a plane in the sky monitoring speed limits, it could cause the driver to slow down.
The major drawback of the program is, obviously, cost. It’s expensive to obtain a plane, pay for manpower capable of flying the aircraft and properly monitor traffic conditions, pay for fuel, etc.
A drawback not regularly mentioned is the potential safety risk. One citizen posted on the Pilot’s comment board…
“I’ve watched them flying at no more than 800 ft altitude at minimum airspeed with half flaps, over residential areas. If I had done that, I’d have lost my license. Flying low and slow, on the verge of stalling, over urban areas for hours at a time was an accident waiting to happen.”
Another citizen stated…
“When you look across the country, state after state has tried using aircraft to patrol for speeders, and time and again they’ve dropped the program because it wasn’t as cost effective as having a few more patrol cars out there. With the cost for gas continuing to go up, the situation only gets worse. It should be no surprise that this is happening.”
There’s talk the program could be resuscitated when the economy rebounds, but there’s a chance it could lead to an increase in car accidents in Virginia (VA) since the threat of aerial monitoring is longer around.
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