Cut-out figures of police to cut traffic accidents in northern New Territories

Cardboard figures of two real officers to be used to reduce traffic accidents in New Territories

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2012, 3:36am

They don't eat, don't need breaks and work extra shifts without complaining.

Meet the new traffic police who will be on the roads in the northern New Territories today.

The life-sized cut-out copies of two real officers, Leung Wai and Sergeant Sit Ching-fung, are aimed at reducing the number of accidents, even though they will not be able to physically stop or arrest speeding drivers. The "officers" also don't get paid, don't need holiday or sick leave and will be on duty from 9.30am to 6pm. They each weigh 9kg and are made of cardboard and aluminium alloy, costing the force HK$10,000 in total.

"We hope drivers passing by [the cut-outs] will pay extra attention to their driving when they think that there are officers around," said Tony Tsang Kin-keung, acting superintendent of the enforcement and control team of the traffic division for the New Territories north region.

He said the number of accidents on the region's three highways rose 12.5 per cent from 367 in the six months to July of last year to 413 in the same period this year. Tsang said the three main causes were motorists not paying attention while driving, being too close to the vehicle in front and careless overtaking.

Similar cut-outs have proved effective in reducing the number of traffic accidents in Britain, Canada and on the mainland.

In Prague, the Czech Republic, cut-outs of female officers in miniskirts caused the number of accidents to increase. But the Hong Kong cut-outs are in more serious poses, with one holding a radar speed gun and the other with a clipboard in hand. During the two-month trial, the pair will be moved to various locations along the Tolo Highway and in Tuen Mun and Fanling.

"If they [the cut-outs] prove to be effective … we may have more of them in other districts," said Tsang.

He also said that after the trial, the cut-outs may get "extra shifts" during peak hours.

Ng Kwan-sing, chairman of a taxi union, said: "It may be able to deter drivers from outside the district from speeding, but drivers in the district won't be fooled once they get used to them."

He also said having more actual police officers on duty on the road to enforce the law would be more effective.