ARLINGTON, Wash. – The Washington State Patrol can deploy up to seven airplanes. And ones like a tricked out Cessna 206, known as Smokey 3, can track wide sections of freeway from 2,500 feet up.
The airplane is equipped with a cutting edge FLIR Safire 1080 HDc camera that can see as well at night as it does in the day in full high definition.
On Thursday in an enforcement emphasis over I-5 through Marysville and parts of Arlington, a few hours netted 10 semi trucks stopped along with three cars. In one case a driver was behind the wheel of a small rental with a suspended driver’s license.
The problem, say troopers, is that this long straight stretch of freeway frequently becomes a dangerous mix of trucks and cars committing violations. Trucks follow cars so close they couldn’t stop in an emergency. Cars follow trucks so close the truck driver can’t see them. Some trucks were speeding, as were some off the cars.
One truck driver was cited for driving in the left-most lane of a three lane stretch of interstate for over a mile, which is illegal because it forces cars to pass on the right where the truck’s driver has a bigger blind spot.
So far this year, the Washington State Patrol says there have been nine fatal accidents involving big rigs; in eight of those accidents the car’s driver was found at fault.
The worst time of the day for big rig accidents, they say? Noon.