Local News

Watch Your Speed: A Gray Eye in the Sky Is Watching

Posted November 21, 2007 6:48 a.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2007 1:14 p.m. EST

— If you’re going on the road for Thanksgiving – or even just to work – you will want to slow down. The state Highway Patrol is mounting a crackdown on speeders during the holiday period, including airborne enforcement.

Troopers say they will be watching the roads from the ground and from their four helicopters.

"We're going to tell everybody right now. This is your warning. Go ahead and slow down and don't take a chance on getting stopped," Lt. Everett Clendenin, a Highway Patrol spokesman, said Wednesday afternoon.

During last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, 11 people died on North Carolina highways – and that was just in the crashes the Highway Patrol investigated. This year, troopers said, they want their presence to be a deterrent for speeders, who they said seem to be going faster than ever.

“Traffic peaks in November, and a lot of it is associated with travel over the Thanksgiving holiday,” Col. Fletcher Clay, the patrol’s commanding officer, said.

“Every 5 ½ hours, someone is killed on our state’s highways, and speed is a leading cause of these fatalities,” said Brian Beatty, state secretary of crime control and public safety.

“It's more common for troopers to go out here and work the interstates and catch people running in the high 80s, 90s and in excess of 100 mph,” Clay said.

From the helicopters, troopers use a timing device that tells them how quickly a vehicle moves between two fixed points along the road. After that, it is simply a middle-school time-distance calculation to show the speed.

In addition, troopers will be on motorcycles and in regular patrol cars and unmarked cars to clock speeders. They also will station unmanned cars at various points on the highways for their value in slowing drivers who might have a reason to worry about how fast they're traveling, troopers said.

They said they'll be focusing their efforts on the interstates and four-lane highways.