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Facebook Used to Issue Traffic Tickets

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David Silversmith
David Silversmith

The traffic police of Delhi, India, are using citizen submissions on a Facebook page to catch and ticket misbehaving drivers.

Indian officials have issued hundreds of tickets based on photographs of license plates posted to the Delhi Traffic Police Facebook page, which has over 25,000 fans. The police didn’t start out asking for these photos, but citizens took the initiative to help the authorities.  Delhi, a sprawling metropolis that’s home to more than 12 million people, has only 5,000 traffic cops.

This example of citizen policing is impressive. The Facebook page shows photos of people on motorcycles without helmets, cars stopped in crosswalks, drivers in the middle of illegal turns and improperly parked vehicles (as shown in the attached photo).

Privacy advocates aren’t thrilled with the idea of cameras snapping shots of them from every direction (though many nations have automated cameras at stoplights and roundabouts that do just that) and there’s always the possibility that someone adept at Photoshop will create a fake photo of a traffic violation to harass someone else. Indeed a Delhi police spokesperson has acknowledged that it was possible photos could be manipulated to incriminate someone who was not actually breaking the law. However, since drivers can contest the tickets if they think they were wrongly issued there is an opportunity for the driver/owner to make their case. 

The police hope this this method will become more useful over time.  Specifically, the 2010 Commonwealth Games will take place in Delhi in early October, bringing a huge influx of travelers to the roads. The info panel at the Facebook page says: “Managing traffic in Delhi during the Commonwealth Games will be a big challange as well as a great opportunity. Delhi Traffic Police cannot possibly succeed without the active cooperation, participation and support of all the citizens.” 

No doubt you have been annoyed by a driver or two - but would you use your camera to report them to the police?

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