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Neither Fast Nor Furious: Three Things You Should Know About Road Safety
What we can all do when every traffic accident or death is one too many.

Did you know that June is Road Safety Month? 

Not a big deal, you say. But that’s probably because Singapore’s roads are, for the most part, very safe. 

According to the Traffic Police, the number of fatal traffic accidents last year fell to 118 cases, compared to 140 cases in 2016. The number of road fatalities also dropped to 122 in 2017, compared to 141 in 2016 – an all-time low. Thankfully, there were also fewer accidents last year that were related to drink-driving, speeding and red-light running. 

Maybe that’s why we often react strongly to new reports of fatal traffic accidents – with hindsight, many seem eminently preventable. 

The good news is that we can all play a part in keeping our roads safe; all it takes is a little road sense (and common sense). Here are three things you should know about road safety in Singapore. 

Road Safety Month 2018 05
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

1. Smaller and at Greater Risk: Motorcyclists and Pillion Riders
Motorcycles make up 15% of Singapore’s vehicle population, but in 2017, accidents involving motorcyclists made up for more than half of all traffic accidents, and accounted for almost 36% of overall traffic fatalities. 

Traffic accidents can happen in a split second, leaving road users with very little time to react. Unlike four-wheeled vehicles – which offer a range of protective features for drivers and passengers during an accident – motorcycles are also more exposed. It’s a truism that bears repeating – in a car, the vehicle covers you. On a bike, you cover the vehicle. 

That’s why motorcyclists in accidents often suffer harm ranging from abrasions to serious bodily trauma, with most injuries sustained on the chest area (where the vital organs are) as well as the upper and lower limbs. 

What you can do: Thankfully, it doesn’t take much for motorcyclists and pillion riders to protect themselves. One simple way is to cover up and wear protective riding gear like a full-face helmet, jacket (with reflective strips), gloves, pants and closed footwear (slippers are definitely not recommended).

This is a message that’s been embraced by organisations with motorcycle fleets such as NTUC Income. Not only are the Riders on its Orange Force Accident Response Team required to wear protective gear, they are also trained to observe safe-riding guidelines such as maintaining a safe braking distance and steering clear of the blind-spots of larger vehicles.

Get more motorcyclist safety tips here

Road Safety Month 2018 02
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

2. Slow Down, Big Guy: Heavy Vehicles in the Spotlight
Tipper trucks, goods vehicles, concrete mixers, trailers, low-loaders, mobile cranes and buses – these are just some of the heavy vehicles that make use of our roads, often on tight schedules. 

While the number of accidents involving heavy vehicles fell last year compared to 2016, they are still over-represented in traffic accidents, with three in 10 fatal accidents involving a heavy vehicle. 

Worryingly, traffic violations by heavy vehicles also rose to 18,900 in 2017, compared to 18,591 in 2016, with the top-three offences being speeding, failing to keep left and running the red-light. 

What’s being done: Size matters on our roads, and accidents involving heavy vehicles are often more serious than those involving cars and motorcycles alone. That’s why the Traffic Police has been engaging companies that operate heavy vehicles as well as drivers to raise their awareness of road safety. 

Download the Toolkit for Heavy Vehicle Companies here.

This education drive has also been complemented by a tougher enforcement regime, with the Traffic Police currently trialling new tools to deter speeding by heavy vehicles. These include: 
• Digital tachograph: Tracks a vehicle’s travelling speed, for enforcement purposes.

• Enhanced Speed Limiter:
Adds GPS capabilities to current speed-limiting devices on heavy vehicles, to deter tampering. 

• Fleet Management System:
Uses GPS to calculate and track the travelling speed of heavy vehicles. 

Get more heavy vehicle safety tips here

Road Safety Month 2018 03
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

3. It’s All About Knowing (and Applying) Road Sense
With the popularity of delivery and private hire car services, one will notice more sightings of private hire cars and food delivery vehicles (whether they are motorcycles, bicycles or personal mobility devices). That’s just one of the ways that Singapore’s traffic landscape is evolving. 

Other changes reflect broader demographic trends in Singapore, with a rise in the number of elderly road users (as well as greater use of personal mobility devices and power-assisted bicycles). While the number of accidents involving elderly pedestrians fell to 273 in 2017 compared to 274 in 2016, the number of accidents involving elderly pedestrians who jaywalked rose to 101 in 2017 compared to 82 in 2016. Half of all fatal accidents involving elderly pedestrians in 2017 were also due to jaywalking. 

What’s being done: To help road users develop their road sense, the Traffic Police has introduced simulation training to help learner drivers and motorcyclists practise defensive driving and riding. In 2019, simulation training will be made compulsory for all learner motorists. 

Another good resource for drivers and motorcyclists is the Traffic Police’s Online Learning Portal. Besides offering free digital copies of the Basic and Final Theory Driving handbook, it also hosts educational videos and road safety tips. 

Road safety is a collective responsibility and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Let’s apply a little road sense and make the roads safer and friendlier for all users!
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Mike Tan
  2. 06 June 2018
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