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Traffic Cops to Remain in the 'Dark'

Despite complaints from drivers about policemen hiding behind street corners to spot traffic violations, Beijing Traffic Management Bureau officials said recently the authority will not call off the special service to prevent and control accidents.

"Policemen are entitled to maintain traffic order in the street, and so far no law specifically prohibits the officers from monitoring while hiding in the shadow, which is proved an efficient way to reduce violations," said Zhao Jiqiang, the Bureau's legal affairs department director.

The practice began decades ago in Beijing when drivers tended to break traffic rules indiscriminately when they saw no police in the street. Violations were especially frequent at crossroads and no U-turn zones, which often led to serious accidents or traffic jams.

The police learned to hide to catch the violators, even though drivers, taxi drivers in particular, criticized the measure, calling it "setting a trap."

Zhao defended the practice, calling it "the most effective measure" to frighten law breakers and help drivers cultivate the habit of obeying traffic laws.

Traffic violations cause 85 percent of the road accidents in Beijing, said the official, who added that the work "in the dark" will continue.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2005)

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