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Dummy Mannequins: India’s new weapon against traffic offenders

Dummy police are the newest recruits to law enforcement in India's southern city of Bangalore where authorities have adopted an unusual tactic to fight traffic offenders.

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Dummy police are the newest recruits to law enforcement in India’s southern city of Bangalore where authorities have adopted an unusual tactic to fight traffic offenders.

Mannequins dressed up as traffic officers — complete with hats, white shirts and fluorescent vests with the police insignia — are being placed at major intersections in the hope they will prompt drivers to observe the rules.

Some even wear sunglasses and face masks. With eight million cars plying the notoriously busy roads in a tech hub renowned for its traffic snarls, police say they don’t have enough flesh and blood officers to man all the junctions.

“The idea is not to scare anybody, the idea is to increase the compliance,” Bangalore Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao told AFP.

“There are 44,000 junctions in the city but traffic lights are fixed in [only] about 450 junctions, the rest of it is manned manually or not managed at all.” He added that officers use a “hide and seek” tactic — swapping the mannequins with actual police — to keep drivers on their best behaviour.

Bangalore, dubbed as the Silicon Valley of India, is home to an estimated 13 million people.

An average of two people die every day on the roads of the megalopolis with 4,283 crashes reported from January to November this year, many blamed on drink-driving, speeding and drivers ignoring traffic signals.

There were 50,457 cases of reckless driving and another 57,394 for drunk driving this year, official figures show. The model officers have received a mixed reaction from commuters about whether the dummy ploy would work, with some locals praising police for thinking outside the box.

Read more: Islamabad installs ‘Smart traffic system’ for better monitoring

“It’s a general human mentality that when you see a policeman, you have fear in your heart, ‘Oh I am doing something wrong, I will not do it’,” said clothing company director Vijay Shekhar.

Others were more sceptical. Businessman Rohit Kamalkar said the scheme wouldn’t work in a country like India where rules are flouted with impunity.

“We do not follow rules even when they [police] are real [so] how would it work when they are not moving and running after us?,” tech consultant Sapan Agarwal added.

This move comes as part of the city’s larger strategy to control traffic on Tuesday’s night New Years Eve celebrations.

“About 7,000 police personnel will be on extra vigil across the city to ensure peaceful New Year eve celebration and safety of the revellers from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning,” Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said in a statement.

Besides heavy police deployment, CCTVs and drones are being installed in the city’s central business district, especially on MG Road and Brigade Road, to monitor thousands of people expected to go out to celebrate the night.

An average of two people die every day on the roads of the megalopolis with 4,283 crashes reported from January to November this year, many blamed on drink-driving, speeding and drivers ignoring traffic signals.

“Traffic will be regulated and parking of vehicles, including two-wheelers will be banned on the main streets in the city centre from 8 pm on December 31 to 6 am on January 1 to prevent jams and ensure better vehicular movement,” Mr Rao said.

Vehicles will not be allowed on flyovers across the city from 9 pm on Tuesday to 6 am on Wednesday to avoid drunk and dangerous driving and prevent mishaps.

Mr Rao has also advised girls and women to be vigilant and ensure their safety if going out alone or in groups.

Read more: Islamabad Traffic Police takes strict action against Tinted glass

“As anti-social elements and miscreants take advantage of the people gathering in public places on such occasions, girls or women should be careful about their safety and security and avoid interacting with strangers who may cause harm or harass them,” the official said.

Restaurants, eateries, pubs and bars will be allowed to remain open an extra hour till 2 am of Wednesday across the city.

Meanwhile, the state-run Bengaluru Metropolitan Road Transport Corporation and Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation have decide to extend

GVS News Desk with additions from news agencies.