Troopers in the sky: stopping distracted drivers - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Troopers in the sky: stopping distracted drivers

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VIENNA, Ohio - As if troopers aren't busy enough tracking down motorists who are speeding and driving recklessly, they now have to keep their eyes on a new target; distracted drivers.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is deploying resources to troopers on their ground game and the Warren Post is working with the patrol's Aviation Section to spot drivers from the skies.

Before a motorist is even pulled over, sometimes a pilot's already caught them in the act from up above.

"The violator doesn't know that I'm watching him (or her) the whole time," Milan Milosevic says, pilot and trooper with the OSP.

A Cessna 182 aircraft takes off from the Youngstown Regional Airport for hours at a time each day.

Patrol pilots add another set of eyes to scan our Valley's roadways, as troopers stationed on the ground wait for a pilot's cue when they've spotted a driver that's attention might be divided between a device and the road.

Signs of a distracted driver:

  • Driving too close to another vehicle, especially when side by side.
  • Traveling out of a marked lane.
  • Following too close, not maintaining an assured clear distance.

"You can see that up in the air and we'll know that, hey, this person is on a cell phone or we've had it where they're reading, or mostly eating or drinking," Milosevic says.

Milosevic says the majority of his distracted driving pursuits happen close to lunchtime.

From 2,000 feet up in the air, it's hard to tell what's actually distracting a driver.

Still, Milosevic says it's common for motorists to admit why they had a hard time focusing on the road in front of them.

"Usually, what I get them for is speeding, and when I get up to the vehicle, I will ask them, 'Do you know why I pulled you over', and most of the them will say that they were speeding, but others will say 'Well, I was looking at my phone," he says.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports 18 percent of all injury crashes in 2010 were caused by distracted drivers. Department statistics show texting while driving carries a risk of causing a crash 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

And if you don't believe a crash could happen to you, Milosevic says think again.

"Everybody has that feature that 'it's not going to happen to me', well, it does. That's the sad part," Milosevic says.

He urges all motorists to practice their typical 10 and 2, with both hands on the wheel. He reminds them to stay focused on what he's watching: the road ahead.

Drivers and Devices: A guide for motorists

When it comes to the law, those under the age of 18 are not allowed to text or use a device while driving. Ohio's texting while driving ban for minors means no texting, no e-mailing, not talking on a cell phone or Bluetooth type device, no computers, no laptops or tablet and no use of a GPS system, unless it's voice activated.

The texting ban for ages 18 and under is a primary offense, which carries a punishment of fines and at most, a license suspension.

Watch Trooper Jason Fatone in the video above, as he reviews the do's and don'ts for minors and adult drivers.

Also, log on to our Facebook page for exclusive pictures of 21 News reporter Lindsay McCoy's experience in the air.

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