|Stock photo: © Versageek-CC-BY-SA|
The resulting situation was chaos on Temecula streets. Motorists flooded connecting streets in an attempt to get around both roadblocks. Many detoured north to Winchester Road, pretty much creating forced-flow traffic conditions along many streets. Gridlock was bad enough that the Temecula Valley News published a route to get around the sobriety checkpoint.
There is no excuse for this madness. This was preventable. Police knew of the Temecula Parkway SigAlert. Public safety was cited as the reason why the checkpoint operation continued. However, creating a situation that seriously worsens already congested traffic flow during a rush hour SigAlert which contributes towards aggressive driving, commuter frustration, lost productivity, unsafe lane changes, and red light running does nothing to make Temecula streets safer. Unless there were any immediate grave safety issues at stake, the DUI checkpoint should have been postponed at once and the inspecting officers should have been reassigned to patrol the areas of concern in order to find and catch the drunk drivers using intelligence driven enforcement means. That would have freed up much of the traffic congestion. The DUI checkpoint to deter dangerous drunk driving would then be rescheduled to another undisclosed location.
was absolutely justified. On the other hand, with increased traffic volumes along I-15, the U.S. Border Patrol uses intelligence driven means to catch drug and trafficking criminals instead of stopping every motorist at the Temecula/Rainbow checkpoint station most of the time. Ever notice seldom use of the checkpoints nowadays? That does not mean border criminals are free to do whatever they please. They are being watched more closely.
Now, we hope that the Temecula DUI checkpoint was part of a larger investigation that positively warranted shutting down peak-direction lanes on a busy commercial corridor during a SigAlert in lieu of using intelligence driven roving patrols to catch peak hour drunk driving. If not, there's going to be a lot of anger from local residents.
The question is: How many drunk or dangerous drivers were indeed caught during this morning rush hour sting?
It is clear that government officials have to accept the fact that setting up crime deterrent-oriented checkpoints during peak travel times needs to be analyzed by traffic engineers so that such safety operations do not contribute toward traffic chaos or commuter delays which choke up productivity and exacerbate unsafe aggressive driving elsewhere. Any unplanned extraordinary traffic incident causing traffic delays at or near a planned DUI checkpoint location should be grounds to postpone such deterrent efforts with the resources spent toward roving patrols. In addition, intelligence driven enforcement combined with roving patrols are key to actually getting dangerous drunk drivers off the roads and into jail, especially during rush hours. The city government should work with law enforcement to prevent such chaotic traffic conditions from occurring again while maintaining the safety our streets and highways.