Traffic Unjammed

Prez to cops: Get lost!


Nearly a year after their bloodless Orange Revolution, the people of Ukraine are still a long way from full freedom. President Viktor Yushchenko has increased public spending, hiked tariffs, and made the tax system more complex, disappointing anyone who assumed that rolling back the old regime would mean rolling back the state.

But he has achieved one deregulatory reform that is bold, radical, and only superficially insane. In July he abolished the country's traffic cops.

The punch line: The rate of road accidents, deaths, and injuries stayed pretty much the same.

According to the webzine Motoring, Yushchenko conceived his plan after an especially irritating hiking trip. Bribe-seeking police repeatedly pulled his car over, even though–according to Yushchenko–he wasn't violating any laws. The president decided his highway patrol was doing more to pad its members' wallets than to enforce good driving; a corrupt police force, he reasoned, was worse than no police force at all.

So far, the statistics have borne that out. "To be fair, a lot of people are out of town because it's the summer holidays," Kiev driver Vadym Chabanov told Motoring, "but driving is less stressful because now you don't have to worry about some goon on every street corner inventing violations to hit you [up] for a bribe."