BANGALORE // Police in the high-tech hub of Bangalore are trying a new way to reduce traffic offences: using cardboard cops to scare drivers into believing that the long arm of the law is watching them.
Road deaths have surged despite a low rate of car ownership, with a lethal combination of poor law enforcement, untrained drivers and bad roads making the country one of the world's leading centres of road deaths.
Many Indian drivers will obey traffic rules only if they think law enforcers will reach out and apprehend them "and we can't be omnipresent", said MA Saleem, a Bangalore police official.
"Drivers in Indian cities break traffic rules when there are no cops around - they jump traffic lights and go the wrong way on one-way streets," he said.
"These cut-out cops are very effective and they can be on the job seven days a week."
Such lifesize flatpack cut-outs are frequently used in places such as Great Britain and North America as a crime-prevention measure, but Mr Saleem said he believed that this was the first time such an idea had been employed in India.
So far, three khaki-clad cardboard policemen have been deployed on major roads in the city, known as the home of India's flagship outsourcing industry.
One cardboard policeman was stolen last week, but that has not discouraged Mr Saleem, who said the fake policemen will now be removed when it is dark to reduce chances of theft.
He said he plans to install 10 more cardboard police on Bangalore's roads.
"It's good. From a distance it looks like a real cop," a Bangalore driver said, while another said he had also been fooled by the cut-outs.
"Two or three times we thought it was a real policeman standing there and we slowed down," he said.