Ohio State Troopers use new technology to catch reckless drivers

The Ohio Highway State Patrol has new piece of equipment to keep the motoring public safe without being on the roads or installing new road technology.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Ohio Highway State Patrol has new piece of equipment to keep the motoring public safe without even being on the roads or installing new road technology.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol Aviation Unit has a new airplane that uses GPS monitoring, maps, and cameras to catch dangerous drivers among a long list of other things. Sgt. Christopher Hasty, one of the unit’s pilots, explained the various uses of the new technology: 

“Air speed enforcement, aggressive driver targeting, as well as pursuit intervention and interdiction. We assist the FAA and NTSB with aircraft crashes and collecting data and information on those events that happen on or off airport properties. Dignitary transport, special response team support, transport of needed items of missions of mercy, whether it’s a heart, lungs. Anything that needs to be transported across the entire state of Ohio.”

Pilot Sgt. Hasty and Tactical Flight Officer Trooper Evans are among the small aerial team that works to keep roads safe among other things. This new plane, or Air Van, is the newest piece of high tech aviation for the unit.

Currently, the State Patrol Aerial Unit has 10 of the one-pilot planes that do a lot of what Hasty and Evans do. But these planes can not create their own air speed zones to catch reckless drivers or speeders.

“We’re a force multiplier [in] that we can actually do the work of five troopers on the ground with only a single trooper,” Sargent Hasty said. “While they’re conducting the business of the traffic stop and investigating, we’re back into the air speed zone watching for more aggressive driving behavior, reckless operation, OVIs, distracted driving.”

While in flight, Sargent Hasty and Trooper Evans, use GPS monitoring, maps and cameras to easily pinpoint dangerous drivers. This is instead of the one-pilot planes that need ODOT’s specific quarter mile speed zone areas and stop watches to catch them.

“Any road way that you’re having crash incidents, aggressive driving. [On] any roadway in the state of Ohio we can just use this system and turn it into an airspeed zone,” Sargent Hasty said.

Additionally, the plane’s camera is able to record what the troopers in the sky are actively seeing.

“We’re able to say ‘It wasn’t just a one time thing. They accelerated above the posted speed limit. Here’s multiple segments they were not only, in some cases, well above the posted speed limit. But they’re also passing on the shoulder, or driving all over the roadway, or using the right lane to pass. any number of things,” Sargent Hasty said. 

Ground troopers are able to rely on their eye in the sky for runners as well. Whether it’s someone who gets out of their car and escapes on foot or leads law enforcement on a high speed car chase. 

“[Trooper’s vehicles] engage that pursuit from a distance. They’re no longer chasing right on the bumper. It’s safer for the motoring public. Usually we follow the suspect all the way to their house, and then we arrest them in their front yard,” Sargent Hasty said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol Aviation Unit is one of only a few states using this type of aerial technology to enforce safer roadways. Though the unit only has one Air Van, the goal is to get grant money for more planes. The unit believes this could be saving hundred of dollars in taxpayer funds that don’t need to be used in construction for ODOT speed traps.

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