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Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft

Huh? So, I’m driving home from NC this morning and as I make my way through Virginia I keep seeing these signs telling me that “Speed Limit [is] Enforced by Aircraft”. I’ve seen these signs before but I never really thought too much about them. I always just assumed that there was some type of plane or helicopter that would fly over the road and time your car as it passes through the lines. Today I started to think that maybe they had something a little more fancy setup. Maybe they could somehow use satellites combined with stuff on the ground to track your speed? Anyway, I checked into it when I got home and found out that they actually DO track you with airplanes.

Apparently the VA police have a few Cessna airplanes which they use to monitor the speed that cars travel between the big lines on the road. They can use a VASCAR system to electronically time how long it takes your car to get through a fixed length “speed trap”. If they find your car to be speeding they will work together with some police on the road to track you down.

It sounds to me like an empty threat. Sure, they can theoretically monitor your speed by aircraft…but how often do you see a plane flying slowly above you on the highway? Plus, the planes are expensive to maintain and fly. Conclusion: I’m not too worried about these police in the sky. ;)


Comment from Erik
Time August 16, 2008 at 10:55 pm

I’ve always wondered if Virginia uses its police cruisers to track the speed of airplanes then.

Comment from Martin Fister
Time August 18, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Yea, I saw some of those in New York when driving to Armonk and wondered about them as well. It seems weird to me. I always felt speeding was a weird thing to enforce outside of actual cops because where do you draw the line? If they use airplanes, why not set up devices on the side of the road that ping cars as they drive by for their speed, read the car’s license plate with a camera and then bill you if you’re speeding?

However, if that WERE the case, everyone would get a ticket, so they would have to set some minimum speed to cause the ticket.

I don’t know, the whole thing seems silly nilly to me and I think the planes are even worse. Talk about a lot of cost for minimal benefit.

Comment from admin
Time August 18, 2008 at 7:07 pm

Yeah. They were saying that it’s not really cost effective to monitor the speed with planes. They also said that giving people tickets doesn’t deter speeding either. The biggest deterrent to speeding is seeing other cars pulled over. Interesting stuff.

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