Indian city deploys police mannequins to deter dangerous drivers

Joe Wallen
Mannequins dressed up as traffic police have been placed on roads in the southern city of Bangalore - Asif Saud/BBC

The Indian city of Bangalore has deployed around 70 mannequins dressed in police uniform to curb dangerous driving after cameras recorded more than 20,000 daily traffic violations.

India is the most dangerous place in the world to drive with over 150,000 deaths on its roads in 2018, according to the World Health Organisation. China, in second place, recorded less than 60,000.

The scheme is facing criticism on social media but authorities say motorists will mistake the mannequins for real officers and drive safely.

“We don’t have footpaths to walk on, roads to drive on and proper transport, yet Bangalore police have so much money to waste on this,” wrote one user.

“Why don’t you get more traffic police personnel and also help create employment rather than deploying such ideas. As if people will not be able to differentiate between a mannequin and a real person,” echoed another.

India's roads are vastly over-congested with Mumbai and New Delhi ranked as two out of the top three cities in the world for motorists spending time in traffic.

Dressed in police caps, white shirts and brown trousers, and wearing sunglasses, the mannequins are now on duty at congested junctions Credit: Asif Saud/BBC

There are currently eight million registered vehicles in Bangalore and this is predicted to rise to ten million by 2022.

Poorly maintained vehicles – including cars, motorbikes, horse-drawn carts and auto-rickshaws – also jostle for space with an estimated 35 million stray dogs and six million cows.

Many roads do not have footpaths so people have to jaywalk to reach their destination. Pedestrians account for 60 per cent of road deaths in Mumbai.

Motorists also often ignore road rules to navigate gridlock with 64 per cent of road accidents caused by speeding, according to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Drink-driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, jumping a red light and using a mobile phone while driving are also common causes of accidents.

Despite the introduction of heavier monetary fines and stricter punishments in September for breaking traffic laws, such as not wearing a helmet on a motorbike, enforcement is not widely carried out.