"It's sort of revolutionary," said Glendale Police Capt. Lief Nicolaisen at a press conference announcing the new program. "We hope it has a strong deterrent factor."
Basically, helicopter crews pace suspected speeders along the portion of West Glenoaks against white painted "X" marks spaced a quarter-mile apart near the center of westbound lanes — day or night.
Once the helicopter is moving with or slightly slower than the speeding vehicle, the pilots clock themselves between two marks. Since it takes 22.5 seconds to travel a quarter-mile at the road's 40 mph speed limit, anything under that time means the motorist is speeding, said Glendale Police Lt. Carl Povilaitis.
A pass clocked at 18 seconds is equal to 50 mph, according to a time chart. At 12 seconds, the speed increases to 75 mph. Ten seconds corresponds with 90 mph.
Pilots will relay the information to patrol officers on the ground, who will then issue the citation.
While reaching those speeds may seem nearly impossible on most city streets, the layout of West Glenoaks lends itself to the wills of speeding motorists with more spacing between traffic lights and wide, straight lanes, police said.
Over the past month, at least six motorists have been cited for reckless driving along that portion or road, according to police reports. Recently, one motorist was stopped for reportedly driving 103 mph, Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams said.
More than 20% of all fatal crashes are caused by speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a situation the city is hoping to prevent with the new airborne support program.