A police officer driving without a helmet runs the red light. Photo posted on Facebook by Dinesh Chander August 2, 2010.

New Delhi only has about 5,000 traffic police officers for the 12 million inhabitants. To control the traffic, the police have to count on… Facebook users!

Delhi Traffic Police launched their their Facebook page at the end of April. It attracts Internet users who report on the state of traffic  and they give advice and respond to questions related to the Highway Code. However, even though the website has attracted 18,000 fans, it is above all because citizens have taken the initiative of posting photos of driving offences. Driving without a helmet, overloaded lorries, unreadable license plates, Internet users have already posted over 3,000 photos, along with the vehicle’s registration, date, time and place of the infringements. According to police officer Satyendra Garg, cited in the New York Times, this method has already prompted 665 verbal warnings.

There have been enthusiastic reactions on the Facebook page, with several congratulatory messages. As Paresh Takkar wrote on Tuesday: "I couldn’t believe my eyes! I posted the message and action was taken within ten minutes!!! WOW… Delhi Traffic Police ought to be rewarded for their swift response. Carry on the good work… soon motorists will be scared they they will be photographed.."

However, most of these photos have been taken whilst driving, which itself is an offence.

Images reported on Facebook

Photo posted on the Delhi Traffic Police Facebook page by Sumit Ahuja on August 3, 2010 with the caption: "a rickshaw in the right lane."

"Unreadable license plate on a scooter driven by a helmetless driver." Photo published on Facebook by Mohit Nagar on August 3, 2010.

A motorbike police officer driving without a helmet. Police response: "Thank you, measures will be taken, 30 members of the police have been tracked to date based on photos uploaded on FB." Photo posted on Facebook by Jaspal Singh on August 2, 2010.

Driving without a helmet. Photo posted on Facebook by Rajesh Rajora on August 2, 2010.

Car with reflective, tinted windscreen and a suspect license plate. Photo posted on Facebook by Nitin Chaudhry  on August 1, 2010.

Overloaded vehicle. Photo posted on Facebook by Manoj Sharma on August 1, 2010.

No helmet and parked on a pedestrian crossing. Photo published on Facebook by our Observer, Gagan Gupta, on August 1, 2010.

 

"Residents of Dehli have always wanted to report illegal activities"

Gagan Gupta is the director of a biometric and surveillance systems company. He lives in New Delhi.

I’ve already posted several photos on the Delhi Traffic Police page. I want to raise awareness. In India, many motorists don’t pay attention to the rules and even enjoy breaking them. Because there are so many vehicles and the police are so limited in number in Delhi, they can’t catch all those who commit offences, that is why we are contributing by posting the photos of the offences.

Residents in Delhi have always wanted to report illegal activities, but they were scared. Previously, when we denounced someone, we were often faced with corrupt police officers who accepted bribes from the driver, without punishing them. Their superiors are not corrupt, but we couldn’t reach them. With Facebook, we can contact them directly. This platform gives us the opportunity to report incidents anonymously and force motorists to respect the law.

Many people die in car accidents on the road particularly because of drunk drivers. I prefer to draw attention to these offences and report them.

I dream that Indians will one day follow the rules of the road like in developed countries."