CSP uses airplanes to check for speeders on major Colorado highways

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Colorado State Patrol owns and operates three Cessna aircraft it uses to monitor traffic on Colorado’s highways for dangerous drivers and speeders.

“Any given day, you’re going to have at least one of us up,” Trooper Nate Reid told FOX31.

The planes fly about 1,500 feet above the ground watching drivers on Interstate 70, I-25, C-470 and other major highways.

Pilots monitor a vehicle’s speed using thick white strips painted or placed on road surfaces. Each mark is exactly half a mile apart.

“When the vehicle passes the first line, I begin my stopwatch,” Reid said. “After that vehicle passes the second line, we’ll hit the stop watch to find out how much time has lapsed between the two half-mile marks and the stopwatch does the calculation for us and gives us the speed.”

During air patrol, law enforcement on motorcycles or in patrol cars on the ground standby to attempt to stop the alleged speeders.

“Trying to describe these driving actions to the officers on the ground sometimes gets challenging,” Reid said. “A lot of the traffic looks alike from 1,500 feet.”

CSP says it is not trying to be stealthy or secretive by monitoring traffic from the air. There are signs posted saying “speed checked by aircraft."

“We want people to know that we’re out here. We prefer voluntary compliance and we want people to do the right thing on the roads,” Reid said.

According to CSP, it is common to spot speeders driving anywhere between 80 and 100 miles per hour in zones where the speed limit is 65 miles per hour.

“That’s our main goal: stop the people dying on the roadways,” Reid said. “Until that fatal number drops to zero, we’ll be flying these airplanes in the sky.”

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