Cardboard Police Officers Trick Bangalore Drivers Into Obeying Traffic Rules

Police in India's high-tech city rolled out cardboard cutouts on major roads to curb reckless driving

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Manjunath Kiran / AFP / Getty Images

Motorists and pedestrians pass a cardboard policeman in busy Bangalore, India

Police in Bangalore, India’s high-tech city, are using cardboard cutouts to scare drivers into behaving themselves, AFP reports.

So far, three life-size, khaki-clad fake police officers have been installed on major roads around India’s technology-manufacturing heartland. And the scheme has been so successful that another 10 will soon be rolled out across this city of 8.5 million people.

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“Drivers in Indian cities violate traffic rules when there are no cops around — they jump traffic lights and go the wrong way on one-way streets,” Bangalore police commissioner M.A. Saleem told AFP.

Road fatalities have risen sharply in India recently despite a low rate of car ownership. More than 60,000 traffic violations were reported in Bangalore during 2012 with at least two road-related deaths every day, according to the International Business Times. These accidents have been blamed on slack law enforcement, untrained drivers and poorly maintained roads.

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“It’s good. From a distance it looks like a real cop,” a local driver told Indian news channel NDTV. “Two or three times we thought it was a real policeman standing there, and we slowed down,” agreed another passing motorist.

Similar measures have frequently been deployed around the world including in North America, the U.K. and Thailand, although this is apparently the first time such an idea has been used in India. But it has not all been plain sailing — Saleem now intends to remove the cutouts at night after one was stolen last week.

Not everyone is convinced by the scheme, however. “All these things won’t work. What is needed is the presence of real constables. The government should recruit more policemen,” one police officer manning a busy junction told the BBC. “Having dummies is a dumb idea. Do you think we can be fooled?” added a college student.

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