The city of Bengaluru is infamous for being one of the most traffucked cities in India, with residents regularly spending hours queued up in cars. That’s probably why many jump signals, use their phones while driving or blatantly race ahead of the speed limit. That’s also probably why there are so many casualties on road, too—and not just a meagre number, but a good 40 percent of people, according to a 2018 data released by the Bengaluru police. And to counter that to some extent, the local cops have decided that on the streets where they cannot keep an eye on traffic offenders, life-size mannequins will have to make do and stand in for duty.
Using the logic that's behind every reality show on earth, the city cops believe that people behave better when they know somebody’s watching over them. This has led to the deployment of 30 mannequins in different parts of the city. Still on a trial basis, these khaki-clad bad boys are decked up in high-vis jackets, police hats, steel-toed shoes and sunglasses. Some of them are even given specific hand directions so that they look realistic and in motion.
Chief of Traffic Ravi Kanthe Gowda told Press Trust of India (PTI) that this idea came about after the police realised that traffic offenders were way more careful about putting on helmets, fastening their seat belts and not texting behind the wheel when they noticed policemen around, even from a distance. “We’re changing the location of the mannequins every day, so that repeat offenders can be cautioned and we can use our workforce in spots that really need our attention,” he told News Minute.
This is not the first time Bengaluru police has let its imagination run amok. In 2013, the cops had placed cardboard cutout versions of themselves across busy junctions in the city. While most of these were mocked and memed on social media, some citizens said that it actually toned down rash driving on the roads.
In the meantime, Bengaluru traffic police statistics say that road fatalities have reduced over the last few years—from 4,455 accidents in 2017 to 4,133 and in 2018. However, the need to monitor the roads—especially as new ones turn up every year—means that more and more traffic police will be required to be on the streets. And even as the police hope that the mannequin method will prove effective—as bizarre as the idea sounds— it could potentially be kinda useless once people realise those poker-faced coppers aren’t really that, and go back to breaking the rules. Still, the authorities are pretty hopeful and are even considering adding secret cameras to these mannequins to identify offenders. Only time will tell whether the fake police squad will be the last mannequins standing.
Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.