Scary angel tries to slow down traffic

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Scary angel tries to slow down traffic

Police in Switzerland have hired a man to dress like an angel and stand on the side of the road in an attempt to convince drivers to stop speeding.

"The idea is to provide a sort of concrete protection, to have a real angel telling drivers to be responsible," said Benoît Dumas, a spokesman for Fribourg police. "To have a physical presence like that makes the message more visible, and it's out of the ordinary."

The "road angel" is the real-world personification of a character who appears in the safe-driving campaign's TV ad, which shows a young motorist bumping into an angel as he hurriedly pulls out of his garage.

Dumas said the identity of the Fribourg angel -- a professional actor -- has not been disclosed for privacy reasons. He said the man is contracted to work 20 hours per week and is supposed to "appear" in different parts of the 670-square-mile region of western Switzerland.

"The initiative will go on until at least end of October, but it could be prolonged. After all, you know, angels are eternal," Dumas joked.

After police in the Swiss region of Fribourg gave out more speeding tickets than officers in the rest of the country, they decided to hire the angel and sponsor a speeding prevention campaign.

Drivers are also encouraged to e-mail the police whenever they "spot" the angel. By sending details of their sightings, motorists are entered into a lottery for a driving lesson.

It's too early to say whether the campaign has discouraged speeding in the mountainous country, where speed limits vary from 75 mph on highways to 50 mph on roads outside towns and 31 mph within towns. However, Swiss authorities believe that seeing an angel along the road could be an incentive for moderation.

Each year for the past five years, an estimated 130 drivers have died in accidents in Switzerland. Inappropriate speed for the road conditions and the driver's abilities is considered to be the primary cause of accidents.

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By netchicken: posted on 18-5-2010

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