12/18/2009Australia: Speed Cameras Watch from the Skies
New South Wales, Australia mounts speed camera equipment in a Cessna for a holiday ticketing blitz.
Just in time for Christmas, police in New South Wales, Australia have announced a ticketing blitz that will run from today until January 3. The star of the A$3.9 million effort this year is a Cessna 206H Stationair fixed-wing aircraft equipped with the latest forward-looking infrared surveillance equipment and speed cameras designed to issue as many tickets as possible over the holidays.
"Just as there are police cars on the road, we will now have a plane in the sky," NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said in a statement. "You never know when police are watching you."
Law enforcement agencies in NSW, as elsewhere in the world, have used aircraft in the past to ticket drivers, but only in conjunction with ground-based forces to pull over any motorist accused from above of speeding. This time, airborne speed camera equipment offers the additional capability of photographing license plates and automatically preparing citations for dropping in the mail. The system will depend on pavement markings to estimate speed using a time-over-distance method.
In addition to speeding, the sophisticated video equipment will be used to "monitor drivers from the air, observing signs of fatigue." Tickets will be generated for vehicle owners if the driver or passengers are spotted without a seatbelt or if the driver uses a mobile phone. For the latter offense, the state will collect A$338 and impose four points.
The holiday season (beginning December 23) also marks the start of a "double demerit" Christmas which means vehicle owners will be hit twice as hard with insurance increases from each ticket received during the blitz. Last year's yuletide speed traps yielded 13,868 speeding and 1099 seatbelt citations.
Both Spain and the UK have experimented with the use of Eurocopter EC135 surveillance helicopters for issuing speeding tickets.