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The risks of driving in Singapore

Posted on Dec 08, 2012 by Sergio Ulloa ()

A recent survey conducted by the global insurance company, AXA, highlighted the top three dangerous driving behaviors in Singapore. Out of 600 people that took part in the survey, an overwhelming majority of people admitted to going through an amber light, failing to signal and speeding as three behaviors that they most frequently commit. In another worrying trend, 40 percent of drivers admitted to using their mobile phone to either send text messages or surf the web while driving.

During the same survey, Singapore's motorists were asked what they perceive to be their biggest threat to road safety and a whopping 82 percent listed cyclists as their number one concern. When asked for a reason or explanation, the motorists claimed that many cyclists do not keep to the edge of the road and take up too much lane space. Cyclists traveling against the flow of traffic were also mentioned as a concern. The remaining 18 percent of respondents claimed that jaywalking pedestrians and citizens walking on the road, or close to the edge of the road as their primary motoring concern.

The results of the AXA survey were met with concern by many people. Singapore appears to have a large number of drivers that are seemingly oblivious to the most basic rules of the road, and this raises the question as to how big a risk driving in Singapore really is. To investigate this, Pacific Prime examined the general accident and fatality statistics and discovered some concerning results.

In 2011, the number one cause of road accidents in Singapore was not drink driving or speeding, but 'failing to keep a proper lookout'. Quite simply, drivers not paying attention to the road caused the most number of accidents, and it has been consistently the sole cause of over one third of road accidents for the period from 2007 to 2011. The second and third most common causes of road accidents was respectively 'failing to have proper control of a vehicle' (18.5 percent), and 'failing to give way to traffic with right of way' (13.2 percent). In fourth place was 'running a red light' at 5 percent.

A total of 197 people were killed and 5,602 injured in road accidents in Singapore in 2011, and inattentiveness was noted as the primary cause of the deaths of 69 people and more than 2,700 injuries. Another worrying statistic was that the number of speeding violations has been increasing year on year and in 2011, the number of speeding tickets rose to 225,000 from 206,000 in 2010, while in 2009 there were 173,000 speeding tickets issued.

Unsurprisingly, the accident and fatality statistics point to a high percentage of drivers with poor driving habits, and following their release, the Singapore traffic police were quick to state their renewed willingness to tackle the issue of dangerous motoring behavior; specifically targeting running red lights and speeding as the most concerning bad behaviors.

The Automobile Association of Singapore (AA) also used the statistics to warn drivers about their bad habits and how to correct them. As a result, a list of eight good habits that all drivers should adhere to was published:

1. Do not use your mobile phone. Talking or typing out text messages while driving results in a lack of concentration. If a driver must make or receive an urgent phone call, they should safely pull over and come to a stop first.

2. Reduce speed. Quite simply, speeding kills. Driving at speed and over the designated speed limit puts the driver, other motorists and pedestrians at risk.

3. Signal. Always use your indicator when you wish to turn or change lane. It is common road courtesy to let fellow drivers, particularly those behind you, know what your intentions are.

4. Give way. If a fellow driver has the right of way, let them proceed before you. It is common courtesy and you achieve little by speeding up to move ahead of them.

5. Keep a safe distance. Do not tailgate and drive too close to the car in front of you. If the car in front of you has to brake suddenly, you will not have much space and time to react and the risk of crashing increases.

6. Keep in your lane. All motorists are advised to position their vehicle in the centre of the lane in which they are driving. Drifting across lanes or driving at the edge of a lane can be frustrating and dangerous for other drivers.

7. Road hogging. This is the term given to a motorist that moves to the outside or fast lane on a freeway but continues to drive slowly. The outside lane is typically reserved for overtaking and those driving at the speed limit. Driving conservatively in this lane can cause other drivers to overtake on the inside, which is unnecessary and dangerous.

8. Use of the horn. The horn should only be used to warn other drivers of a potentially dangerous situation, and it should not be used to pressure other drivers to increase their speed.

By driving responsibly and with courtesy and respect for fellow road users, many of the risks associated with driving in Singapore can be eliminated.
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