State Patrol to use planes over Hwy. 23 between Fond du Lac, Sheboygan

Air enforcement zone sign in Fond du Lac on February 7, 2018 (WLUK/Mike Moon)

(WLUK) -- The Wisconsin State Patrol plans to start using airplanes to watch over traffic on Hwy. 23 between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan Counties.

Permanent "air enforcement zone" warning signs have been placed along a 19-mile stretch of the highway runs between the City of Fond du Lac and Plymouth. State Patrol officials hope the signs will encourage safe driving, even when planes aren't in the air.

This area of Highway 23 is considered dangerous by drivers and state troopers alike.

"We do respond to a fair amount of very serious or fatal crashes on Highway 23," said Sergeant Dan Diedrich.

In addition to crash response, state patrol takes a lot of complaints from people living and traveling along this stretch.

"We get, 'there's a lot of people speeding by my house,' or, 'when I drive my children to school I notice a lot of aggressive drivers," Diedrich told FOX 11 News.

So troopers will step up enforcement here...taking to the sky to do so. State patrol has three Cessna 172 Skyhawk planes and five pilots.

"The pilots actually use markings on the roadway to identify the speed over a time-distance," Diedrich explained.

They do that math by dividing the 19 miles into 660-foot zones.

Once the pilots find someone speeding or driving recklessly, they pass along the information.

"They radio down to our ground cars and the ground cars are the ones that take the enforcement action," Diedrich told us.

The department of transportation has already put up permanent signage to let drivers know there will be aerial patrols on this stretch.

"We just want everybody to be a little bit more aware that we do take enforcement, aggressive enforcement on that patch of roadway and that, essentially, we could be watching at any time," explained Diedrich.

State patrol told FOX 11 this is an existing program, so it should not need additional funding, just restructuring.

The patrols will be permanent, but there will not be any set days, times, or amounts of them.

"We're not going to publicize these details. It could be on a Monday at 8:00 for your morning commute, it could be on Thursday for your evening commute," said Diedrich.

Troopers told us they just hope drivers take this opportunity to slow down and drive safely.

"A lot of people just lose sight of the fact that they're not on US 41 and that they're on a rural, two-lane roadway and that the speed limit is 55," Diedrich said.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation says it is studying ways to improve the two-lane highway.

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