An officer from Pudong traffic police is seen operating a drone. (Ti Gong)
With "illegal lane cutting" cited as one of the top traffic offenses on local roads, Shanghai police have turned to drones and car-top cameras to clamp down on such irrational driver behavior — and the results, so far, have been gratifying.
For example, on Wednesday morning alone, Pudong traffic police caught 16 illegal lane cutters on Yanggao Road M. off the Inner Ring Road with a drone within an hour.
Like on most busy city roads, one lane on Yanggao Road M. is always packed with cars during rush hour. Drivers cutting in from this crowded lane on to less congested neighboring lanes is a common occurrence.
"A traffic police camera can only cover a certain area within its sight, but a drone can overlook a much larger area," explained Gao Yifei, vice captain of the mobile squad of Pudong traffic police.
Illegal lane cutting often causes road rage, leading to bigger traffic jams and accidents, police said.
No wonder, in an online voting on "the most undesirable traffic offenses from motor vehicles," initiated by Xuhui traffic police on December 15, one in four votes went to "illegal lane cutting."
In fact traffic police in the Pudong New Area have been using drones to good effect for a while now. Earlier this year, Pudong police detected 359 traffic offenses with drones, with most of the offenses concerning trucks illegally using lanes for passenger cars and drivers using mobile devices while driving.
In Yangpu District, police now use a rotating camera installed on the top of the police car to catch and record such offenses.
Such a camera caught 14 lane cutters during morning rush hour on Zhoujiazui Road near Dalian Road on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This section of Zhoujiazui Road is particularly notorious because many drivers illegally take the bus-only lane by cutting in from neighboring crowded lanes.
A police officer operated the camera with a tablet and recorded videos of the illegal actions to be processed for evidence afterward.
Last week, Shanghai traffic police announced that three new police cameras targeting illegal lane cutters had turned up 479 offenses between October 22 and December 12. Similar cameras will be gradually introduced at more spots across the city, police added.
Lane-cutting offenders are usually fined 200 yuan (US) along with two demerits on their driving licenses.