Speed enforcement by aircraft plummetsEnlarge Photo
Here's one less thing for summer road-trippers to worry about: speeding tickets doled out by airplanes.
Of course, if you're planning to hit the highway this July 4 holiday, you'll still see the familiar signs that read, "State Police aircraft used in speed enforcement". But according to at least one report, there's very little bite behind those signs' bark -- at least in most places.
Here's a quick rundown of states where air patrols have either been grounded or seriously scaled back:
Alabama: Officials admit that the aerial speed enforcement program hasn't been used in years.
California: The state's Highway Patrol still puts planes in the air to catch speeders, but at a "much-reduced capacity".
New York: Due to budget constraints, the State Police haven't issued a single ticket by plane since 2005.
Pennsylvania: The state has scaled back on pilots, and it's using just one airport instead of the initial three. In fact, Pennsylvania law enforcement now have twice as many planes (six) as they do pilots (three).
Virginia: Crippled coffers are keeping the State Police out of the skies. Last year, the department flew only one mission all year, and it's not looking much better for 2012.
Washington: The state continues to send up planes, but not nearly as often as it used to. The number of tickets issued by pilots hovers around 8,000 -- which is high, but significantly down from 13,500 at the program's peak.
It's worth noting, though, that at least two states still have plenty of officers aloft, ready to cite you for speeding:
Florida: The Sunshine State believes strongly in aerial speed enforcement, issuing a whopping 30,000 tickets each year.
Ohio: Over the recent Memorial Day weekend, the state's Highway Patrol had ten planes in the air. Throughout the year, they write an average of 16,000 tickets.
Of course, we'd never encourage any of you to speed -- after all, studies have shown that speeding and aggressive driving can be hazardous to your health.
But we know that not everyone can be dissuaded. If you're a lifetime leadfoot, you should at least peruse this list of the top five states for speeders -- not to mention our handy infographic that shows the best (and worst) states for driving.
Buckle up, and be careful out there!