In their effort to crack down on speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors, Department of Transportation officials will use aerial enforcement missions through the heavily traveled summer months.
If you’re caught, you’ll know it right away. There won’t be any citations coming in your mailbox at a later date. David Pabst is director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety. “The pilot flying the aircraft is a sworn officer.” He times the motorists speed and then “radios down to a chase car with the information. Then, it’s an actual traffic stop where you get a ticket at that time.”
From their airborne vantage point, Pabst says they can detect speeding, aggressive driving, tailgating, unsafe lane changes and other traffic violations. In making the actual traffic stop, officers on the ground also give citations for failure to buckle up, and for criminal activity — eight drug arrests, one felony arrest, and five warrant arrests were issued last year.
The goal is not to spy on motorists from above; drivers are getting a heads up. “… to let people know that we’re up there working … what you end up with is voluntary compliance and that’s what we want.” Pabst says, “We want people to stop speeding, and wear their seat belt and all of that without us having to stop them.”
Last year, the State Patrol Air Support Unit conducted 64 aerial enforcement missions and made around 2,000 traffic stops, 1,300 speeding citations, 51 citations for failure to fasten seat belt, and 9 citations for child safety restraint violations.
To deter speeding, the DOT will announce the dates and locations of many of the aerial enforcement missions in advance on Twitter (#WisDOT).