In 1998, the U.S. Federal Highway Authority released a report noting that driving either much slower or much faster than the rest of the cars on the road was a key cause of motor vehicle accidents. And while too slow driving was generally rare, speeding was generally commonplace. Police departments around the country — and, world — have, understandably, turned toward creative solutions in hopes of getting drivers to slow down. One such innovation: the empty police car. It is a pretty simple ruse in its most basic form: drive a police car to a spot where drivers tend to speed and leave the car there while the officer goes to work elsewhere, as seen in this short, amateur video.
But that, of course, puts the police car in use — so police departments have turned to other, cheaper solutions. Parts of Long Island, New York have turned to pictures of police cars and officers on billboards, with, on occasion, an actual officer in front, shooting radar. Parts of Scotland explored inflatable police cars, while Romania went with the more standard cardboard cutouts.
Unfortunately, these plans sometimes go awry. The case of the Czech Republic, from where the above picture comes, is one such example.
Officials in Prague decided to continue on the path described above, but instead of using a cardboard car, they went with a cardboard cutout off a police woman, replete with miniskirt. The results, initially, per MSNBC, were positive, but according to the Telegraph, they ended up poorly. Most importantly, the number of crashes around the cutouts actually increased, likely as drivers attention was diverted their attention away from the road and instead toward the faux woman. Further, the Prague police dressed the cutouts in real clothes — jackets, hats, sweaters — to blend in, based on the weather, but those items were often stolen. And in the end, the cutouts themselves — light, easy to transport, and probably a good conversation piece — ended up stolen as well.
Whether the cutouts are still in use has not been reported since last December.
From the Archives: Road Rage: Messages embedded in tar — not causing accidents, but rather, disconcerting feelings.