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Safety checkpoints were part of national study
Signs alerted drivers to stop
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Forsyth County News


Over the past couple of weeks, Forsyth County motorists may have been surprised to see electronic signs alerting them to a traffic safety checkpoint up ahead.

While such checks are usually conducted without warning, the signs were about more than courtesy.

As part of a $30,000 grant, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office was participating in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study to determine the effects such notification may have on drivers.

Sheriff Ted Paxton said deputies conducted safety checkpoints on two consecutive weekends in October, without the warning signs, and again the last two weekends in March.

He said the funding was used for technological improvements. In exchange, the agency was obligated to participate in the checkpoints.

Paxton said deputies checked for the usual violations, such as driving while intoxicated or without a license or proof of insurance.

He said about a dozen or more deputies were assigned to each checkpoint, to keep traffic moving as efficiently as possible.

"That was one of our considerations was to make sure we had enough personnel out there to keep the flow of traffic going as easily as we could and not interfere anymore than it would normally be," he said.

Information collected during the checkpoints was sent to the traffic safety administration. Paxton said that data likely will be compiled for later release.

The sheriff added that the administration also performed random telephone surveys before and after the checkpoints to find out what drivers thought about the signs.

Although the study is finished, Paxton said deputies will continue to conduct random checkpoints -- only without the signs next time.