Thiruvananthapuram

Drink coffee, keep awake is the police mantra

REFRESHING POLICING: The police welcoming drivers with a cup of ginger coffee at Kilimanoor on Saturday night.

REFRESHING POLICING: The police welcoming drivers with a cup of ginger coffee at Kilimanoor on Saturday night.  

A steaming cup of coffee for drivers is what the police have hit upon to check night-time accidents.

On Saturday night, the police waved down vehicles on the State Highway at Kilimanoor and “invited” drivers to wash their faces and sip steaming cups of spiced coffee.

It was 10.30 p.m. and the police, led by Superintendent of Police, Rural, A. Akbar, seemed convinced that they had stumbled upon an innovative idea to reduce night-time road accidents caused by sleepy drivers by refreshing them with a hot cup of coffee with dried ginger boiled in palm sugar and served free of cost in the presence of uniformed officers.

The police first stopped a van ferrying pilgrims to Sabarimala from Marthandam in Tamil Nadu. Several patrol vans were parked on either side of the highway, a few with their engines idling and rooftop emergency beacons on to indicate to motorists that the spot was a police checkpoint.

The apparently petrified van driver stepped out of his vehicle with his driving licence. Grim-looking policemen confronted him. A senior officer curbed the men's instinct to verify the driver's licence. Instead, he cajoled the driver to relish the brew served straight from the kettle. The bewildered driver accepted the offer with apparent relief.

A senior official then informed him that he had just inaugurated a joint scheme by the police and the local neighbourhood watch to reduce night-time accidents on the State Highway.

Soon, more vehicles, drivers, and passengers arrived. By 11.15 p.m., the temporary shed erected for serving freshly brewed coffee resembled a wayside eatery.

At least one passenger was unconvinced by the stated purpose of the “middle of the night” police hospitality. “It is a new police ploy to nab drunk drivers,” he said.

Police officers and members of the local neighbourhood watch scheme played hosts. K. Mohanan Nair and Baby Harindra Das, organisers of the watch, said the stretch was an accident black-spot, and most accidents occurred at night during the Sabarimala season.

Mr. Akbar said 292 people were killed and more than twice the number injured in accidents in the rural district till November 10 this year. A considerable number of the accidents had occurred during night and during the Sabarimala season when the traffic volume increased substantially owing to influx of vehicles from other States.

The police have started similar night-time coffee outlets in all the rural subdivisions.

Coffee to keep you awake all night, seems to be the traffic safety motto of the rural police till the conclusion of the pilgrimage.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 10:40:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/drink-coffee-keep-awake-is-the-police-mantra/article2667773.ece

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