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Bet you didn’t know this … November 30, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Signs.
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I received a press release the other day about an upcoming ceremony for the latest inductees to the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Hall of Fame in Chandler.

Most of the inductees have little or no connection to Route 66. However, one police chief’s contribution has impacted drivers on Route 66 — and all drivers on all American roads.

To the news release (my emphasis):

Tulsa Police Chief Clinton Riggs (deceased) was selected for his efforts to advance professionalism with the Tulsa force. Examples of his actions became role models for many other departments. Under his leadership the Tulsa Police Academy was established and higher educational degrees were mandated for entering officer and for advancement.  Further, he raised 45 scholarships for police officers to attend and graduate from law school. He encouraged and supported the separation of the police and fire fighters from the political structure to a civil service system.  He designed the “Yield” sign now used in all 50 states. Author, educator, professional lawman and inventor, his vision and dedication will always serve the citizens of Tulsa and Oklahoma.

A newspaper article posted on RootsWeb gives more details about Riggs’ creation:

The first two signs were installed in Tulsa in 1950 at First Street and Columbia Ave. The original signs were keystone shaped and were painted yellow with black lettering.

Riggs’ son, Thomas Riggs, cherishes one of the original signs as a prized possesion. One of the early manufactured signs is on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Riggs apparently conceived the idea of the sign while working as a trooper. He began developing it while attending Chicago’s Northwestern Traffic Institute in 1939.

He experimented with the concept for more than a decade, striving to create a sign that would not only control traffic at an intersection but that also would affix civil liability in a collision in which one driver failed to yield, according to the Tulsa Police Department’s history book.

According to newspaper reports, one of the first signs installed reduced the ranking of the most-dangerous intersection in the city to the seventh-most dangerous in 12 months. Requests for the signs soon began pouring in from around the country.

Save for stop signs, can you think of a more ubiquitous road sign than a “Yield”?

More about the inductees can be found here. The induction ceremony will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler. The event is free and open to the public.

Comments»

1. Ron Hart - December 1, 2010

I was living in Tulsa between 1965 and 1972, and was one of the first to attend the Tulsa Auxillary Police School downtown. Clinton Riggs was our instructor, and I remember him telling the class about the conception of the yield sign. He was an engaging instructor and was one of those individuals who certainly left the world a better place.


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