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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 10:47 GMT
Ukraine's dummy police cars
Anti-speeding Ukrainian police vehicle
The dummies could be vulnerable to scrap metal thieves

A unique police car has been introduced in Ukraine as part of an ongoing campaign against speeding.

The "vehicle" is flat, has no motor or moving parts, and is made of a single sheet of metal.

It looks close enough to the real thing to instil reckless drivers with respect for the speed limit.

But there are fears that the dummy could be more valuable as scrap metal than as a deterrent to speeding.

Cat-and-mouse

Dummy police cars have been used in other countries including Japan, where they were successful until drivers learned to ignore mock-ups rotting on the same spot for years on end.

But the Ukrainian imitation of a police vehicle weighs in at just over 100 kilograms, light enough to be moved from place to place as the novelty wears off, local media reported.

The drivers will also be kept on their toes by the real patrol car that will often await them a few miles down the road from the imitation.

Adept at playing cat-and-mouse with the numerous traffic policemen on their streets, Ukrainian motorists have acquired techniques to outwit patrol cars and hidden speed cameras.

Many drivers slow down at the sight of suspiciously-parked cars on the hard shoulders of major roads. Chances are that police with radar could be hiding inside, ready to swoop on the offender.

Killer speed

Speeding, drink-driving, notoriously bad roads and aggressive driving habits have contributed to high accident rates on Ukraine's roads.

Despite low car ownership, the number of people killed in traffic accidents in Ukraine - just under 6,000 in 2002 - is almost twice the UK figure.

Ukraine's cash-strapped traffic police, which used sponsor aid to build the first mock-up, are hopeful that the experiment will bring results.

If it proves successful, more imitations will be built, each equipped with a more conventional fake policeman.

Guarding the guardian

Critics, however, have been quick to point out that the frequency of metal scavenging in Ukraine is likely to ruin the project.

Scavengers have long been wreaking havoc on Ukraine's infrastructure, stealing anything that contains even a few pounds of metal that can be sold as scrap.

A 100-kg sheet of metal posing as a police car may itself require round-the-clock police protection to survive for more than a few weeks.

This, the critics note, defeats the whole purpose of the exercise.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Ukraine
15 Dec 02 |  Country profiles
Road deaths rise slightly
13 Jun 02 |  UK News
No accident of statistics
19 Dec 00 |  UK News


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