You have no doubt seen the signs warning drivers that aircraft might be in use to spot speeders or reckless drivers. It is likely you glanced skyward when you saw the sign, slowed for an instant, then went right back to doing whatever you were doing because you didn’t see an aircraft in sight.

But take heed: the Florida Highway Patrol routinely uses single engine aircraft to monitor long stretches of highway and regularly spots and cites drivers they capture on radar exceeding the posted speed limit.

The advantages of using an airplane, or any aircraft, to monitor drivers are many, not the least of which is the fact that an aircraft can record your speed and observe your vehicle from a much further distance than a patrol car stopped along the side of the road. Aircraft have an unimpeded view of your vehicle from hundreds or even thousands of feet in the air. That means long before you see their aircraft or hear their aircraft they have already recorded your speed and license plate information and notified troopers on the ground to pull you over and issue you a citation. They might also make a note of whether or not you were driving “aggressively” or “recklessly.”

The fact is, police have a number of tools at their disposal to track and record drivers who might be flaunting traffic rules. These tools range from radar guns to aircraft to automatic traffic light cameras. Yes, the communities served by these ticketing devices do receive revenue as a result of the citations they offer, but the fact is, reckless drivers and speeders cause more collisions which end up costing the community money in emergency services and road repairs.

So the next time you hit an open stretch of road with no trees, no landmarks and no cops in sight, before you put the pedal to the metal remember, it’s not just what you can see, but what you can’t see. The police might be watching you from the air; trying to keep you safe, sometimes from your own recklessness.