April 25, 2006

Sobriety Checkpoint
Platte County Missouri

     On April 21, 2006, a Sobriety Checkpoint was held on Missouri 45 Highway and Klamm Road. This operation was conducted by the Platte County, Missouri Sheriff's Department. The Officer-in-Charge was Sgt. Dave Thornburg.

     The operation was begun at approximately 10:00 PM with deputies blocking temporarily the West bound lanes of Missouri 45 Highway. The area was slightly illuminated by overhead street lights (SEE attached diagram). The intersection is controlled by overhead traffic signals. These were manually set to red-flash by the deputies. The traffic was controlled by the electric signals and officer hand directions. Initially the eighteen (18) inch sign was placed in between the two check lanes. This position was chosen for ease of placement and lasted for about one hour. They could not decide which signal, sign or hand direction to obey. At this time, it was observed by Sgt. Thornburg that the flagman was not clearly observable by the traffic due to loss of an overhead light and constant movement of the spot light placed on him by the moving traffic. Sgt. Thornburg moved the sign to a position about twenty (20) feet East of the flagman position. This proved to be the best place. The sign due to its ease of break-down and set-up was moved in a very few minutes by only one person. The sign was illuminated on the “SLOW” side only and was visible for the entire sight distance of the Checkpoint. There was an immediate easing of the traffic flow. The flagman noticed a marked drop in the speed of approaching vehicles. The sign was in continuous use for the remainder of the operation.

     The sign's ability to be set up, moved and taken down by one person was greatly appreciated due to the manpower restraints of this operation. This was the third demonstration of the unit, having been in operation for about five (5) hours previously during classroom training. The light showed no dimming. Several of the deputies at the checkpoint noted that it could be carried in a patrol vehicle's trunk with little change to current equipment. It should be noted that several members of the Missouri Department of Transportation, Office of Highway Safety were present and were also impressed with the signs usefulness.

Respectfully Submitted,

Ralph M. Stewart
Sobriety Checkpoint Supervisor
Training Coordinator
Missouri Safety Center
201 Humphrey's
Warrensburg, MO 64093

(Reprinted with Permission)

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