Car accidents are declining, but does that mean our roads are safer? Let’s take the high road and explore the reasons behind traffic accidents and what we could do to prevent them.
Whether you’re always behind the wheel or find yourself booking a Grab more often than you should, we all know that being on the road could sometimes end in an accident or in more severe cases — a wailing ambulance ride and a suspended license.
Good news is that the national traffic accident statistics show a downward trend, given there were significantly less cars on the road during the Circuit Breaker period.
But before we pat ourselves on the back, it’s worth noting that speeding-related driving violations and accidents caused by drink driving increased in the first half of 2020. Moreover, there’s also been a concerning uptick in accidents involving vulnerable road users. In short, there’s still much to learn for us drivers on how we can make the roads safer for everyone.
1. Beating the red light
It’s practically one of the first things they teach you in driving school: once you see the amber light, you should slow down to stop. But from what we’ve usually seen on the road, rule-breaking drivers may take that as a sign to speed up instead before the light changes red.
Contrary to what most drivers may think, it’s not merely just a bad habit — running the red light has caused 40 accidents in the first half of 2020. Sure, you may reach your destination slightly earlier but it’s not worth endangering pedestrians and other motorists just to avoid being late.
Perhaps there's incentive to putting a stop to it for good: in March 2020, more red light cameras were installed in a bid to prevent the rise of red-light dashing.
2. Driving above the speed limit
Picture this: it’s one of those days where everything went wrong before it even began. The hazy mornings where you hit the snooze button one too many times and now you’re running late for your first meeting.
In a high pressure situation, driving above the speed limit can feel awfully tempting — especially on expressways — but it’s time to pump the brakes before it overtakes you. Speeding is dangerous because it reduces your reaction time, increases the distance needed to stop the car and worst of all, you’re more likely to lose control of your car, risking the lives of others in the process.
The penalties of speeding will also get you in a tailspin: expect to get slapped with four demerit points and a fine of $150 to $200 for exceeding the road speed limit by 1 to 20km/h.
To learn more, you can check out the full list of offenses (complete with the individual demerit points and fines they carry) on the Singapore Police Force website.
3. Driving under the influence of alcohol
Perhaps you’ve overindulged on tipples during a fun night out. Based on statistics and general concern for other road user’s safety, it’s best to hand the keys to a designated driver or fire up your trusty ride hailing app instead of braving the road yourself. Alcohol can dangerously impair your driving ability, hinder your vision and slow down your reaction time, which could put you at risk of causing an accident.
Fortunately in Singapore, the number of fatal accidents caused by drink driving has decreased by 36% to 55 in the first half of 2020, from 86 in 2019. Given the recent efforts to impose heavier fines and harsher penalties for drink driving (including a prison term of up to 12 months), you wouldn’t want to be caught failing your breathalyser test anytime soon.
Leave your car at the bars and you won’t end up behind them, plain and simple.
4. Accidents involving vulnerable road users
While you’re on the road, it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for vulnerable road users A.K.A. those without a hunk of metal to protect them from a collision. Yes, even when you have the right of way.
Based on the latest figures from 2020’s Singapore Police Force Mid-Year Traffic Situation, there’s been a rise in traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians and motorcyclists. In the case of elderly pedestrians, almost half (46%) of accidents were caused by jaywalking.
For motorcyclists, these stats continue to look pretty grim. In the first half of 2020 alone, motocyclists or pillion riders were involved in 60% of road accidents and comprised 60% of fatal road accidents. As drivers, we should always err on the side of caution by frequently checking our mirrors and blind spots. Doing so might do wonders for the wellbeing of motorists and pedestrians who share the road with you.
5. Distracted driving
In this day and age where we can’t go anywhere without being directed by a navigation app or keeping our loved ones up to date on our whereabouts, it’s safe to say that it's harder than ever to drive with our undivided attention.
Using our phones while driving can have serious consequences as you tend to take your eyes off the road for longer periods of time. In some cases, you may also take your hands off the wheel to reply to a text message, which could eventually lead to road accidents. If caught red-handed, you could be in violation of the Road Traffic Act, or more specifically Section 65B which prohibits the use of a mobile communication device while driving. It carries a fine of up to $1,000 or a jail term of up to 6 months or both.
Research has shown that the likelihood of a crash is higher with distracted driving, as compared to drink-driving. To ensure that your focus is where it needs to be, perhaps it’s best to keep your phone away till you’ve reached your destination. After all, we all have a part to play in keeping Singapore’s roads safe.
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