• 05.12.10

Hirsute Angel Offers Road Safety Reminders, Swiss Style

Swiss road angel

Switzerland, that gnomic country full of gold, cheese, and cuckoo clocks (although we all know now Orson Welles was wrong on that last note) is a curious mix of the hi- and low-tech–and guess which camp this traffic-calming initiative is parked in. The dude you see on the asphalt is the Road Angel, and he’s part of an anti-speeding campaign in the state of Fribourg–although my first thought was that it was an innovative marketing campaign for a new washing detergent.


The Road Angel (middle name Deathwish, likes listening to Grateful Dead, Phish, any jam, really) stands on the side of the road, flapping his wings and waving his hands to get drivers to slow down–a tug on their mortality strings, I guess. Local police thought that having a real-life spin-off of a successful TV ad (spoiler: the angel gets knocked down by a motorist) would force drivers to slow down.

Weirdest part of the stunt is that any driver who spots the Angel as they are zipping along–responsibly, of course–can email the police–preferably not from their smartphone while driving (seeing the pitfalls here?)–and they will be entered into a lottery, for which the prize is a driving lesson. (Memo to Fribourg police: Next time, up the incentive. A driving lesson in a Ferrari. Or a Ferrari. Not a driving lesson tout simple.)

“The idea is to provide a sort of concrete protection, to have a real angel telling drivers to be responsible,” says a police spokesman, who apparently believes the Road Angel is actually on loan from heaven (let’s not tell him, shhh). “To have a physical presence like that makes the message more visible, and it’s out of the ordinary.” Yeah, until he gets knocked down by a little old lady in a Fiat Panda who is convinced that she’s died and gone to heaven.

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.