Published: 06 July 2019
Chairman, Singapore Road Safety Council, Mr Bernard Tay
Senior Assistant Commissioner, Gerald Lim, Commander Traffic Police
Members and Partners of the Singapore Road Safety Council
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. A very good morning and a very warm welcome to the inaugural RoadSense Carnival.
2. I’m sure many of you have come across different types of uniquely Singapore behaviours on our roads. Let me share three examples. First, is when you are trying to switch to another lane, the driver on the other lane would often accelerate, instead of slowing down when you signal. So when you signal, instead of slowing down they actually move faster. The second thing is when you are at a traffic junction and you see the traffic signals at the junction about to change, people accelerate. They go faster to beat the light. I’m sure Traffic Police has seen many of such behaviours. The third one is when it’s obviously too late to enter a slip-road, they then decide to slow down and after that change lanes abruptly to squeeze and enter the slip-road.
3. So these are some of the uniquely Singapore behaviours that we have found quite common on our roads. I’m sure you can relate to these examples and what these inconsiderate behaviours does is that it can be irritating, but it can be very dangerous too. That is something that we are very concerned about because if we do not correct these behaviours, if we do not point these things out, it is a matter of time before accidents happen and someone gets hurt.
4. Today’s RoadSense Carnival made a lot of sense. It is launched in conjunction with the Singapore Road Safety Council’s Singapore Road Safety Month. It is also part of Traffic Police’s “Use your RoadSense” Campaign. This is a road safety initiative that was launched in February this year.
5. All of us are road users in one way or the other. Whether you are on your daily commute as a student, on the way to school, or working, or just heading out to get groceries. Roads are shared spaces and it is a part of our daily life. The good news is that our traffic accident rates in Singapore have remained low, but we must not be complacent, because every accident is one too many – especially when people get hurt or lives are lost.
Efforts by Agencies to Improve Road Safety
6. Over the years, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Traffic Police and our stakeholders, have taken a multi-pronged approach to improve road safety.
7. The first is to ensure there are regulations in place, and that our penalties are effective in deterring irresponsible driving behaviour.
8. MHA introduced amendments to the Road Traffic Act in Parliament last month. This is to tackle the problem of irresponsible driving, so that irresponsible drivers will face harsher penalties and will be kept off the roads for longer periods of time.
9. One of the key changes that will be made, is the enhancing of Criminal Penalties. These are for offences in which motorists exhibit driving behaviour that is reckless, dangerous or careless, especially if serious harm was caused to the victims. Mandatory minimum sentences will be imposed for irresponsible driving offences in which death or grievous hurt is caused, so that offenders do not get away with jail sentences that are too short. The amendments also focus on cases of driving under influence (DUI), to impose additional and heavier penalties for offences committed under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
10. We have also proposed additional levers to keep irresponsible motorists off the roads quicker and for longer periods of time. This would include “minimum disqualification” periods for offences that cause more serious levels of harm, and expanding the list of offences for which drivers’ licences can be suspended with immediate effect and the offending vehicles forfeited.
11. The amendments will be debated in Parliament next week.
12. We are also working on enhancing our enforcement efforts. For example, the Traffic Police will introduce 12 more digital traffic red light cameras at different traffic hotspot locations this year. They will come with prominent signages and bright paint work so that you know that these cameras are there and will slow down accordingly. The idea is not to let your photos be taken, but actually to change your behavior such that you won’t get caught.
13. One of our partners, LTA, has been working on improving our Road Safety Infrastructure. LTA has embarked on a programme to introduce control right turns at approximately 1,000 traffic light junctions by 2023. Where it is not feasible to do so, LTA will install other traffic features such as turning pockets and “Give Way To Pedestrians” signs.
14. With Singapore’s aging population, keeping our roads safe for the elderly and the mobility-challenged is also a key priority. So LTA aims to put in place 50 Silver Zones by 2023. As of today, Silver Zones have been introduced to 16 locations. These locations have road safety engineering features to lower vehicular speeds in order to safeguard pedestrian safety
15. Last but not least, the Traffic Police have been working with partners such as the Singapore Road Safety Council to ramp up public engagement and education on road safety. The “Use your RoadSense” campaign was first introduced in 2015. It was refreshed in February this year for another three years, to engage all road users on safe and gracious road use. The Traffic Police will also be introducing mandatory simulator training for all learner motorists from December this year. This will allow learner motorists to be put through common high-risk road situations in a safe and controlled environment.
16. As part of the council’s efforts to raise awareness on pedestrian road safety, the council will also be introducing cartoon comic strips on the importance of using designated crossings such as zebra crossings, overhead bridges and traffic signals. You will be able to find them in the Sunday Times tomorrow (7 July). The comic strips will be adapted into table top stickers and they can be found island-wide at food centers and coffee shops.
Culture of Graciousness on Roads
17. MHA and our partners will continue to promote road safety by introducing the “hardware”. This includes regulations, road infrastructure changes and improvements and education. But this must be complemented by the “software” within each road user. A sense of respect and responsibility towards the safety of others and a commitment to build a culture of graciousness on our roads.
18. Traffic Police embarked on a nationwide study involving different groups of road users, to get a better appreciation of the level of road safety in Singapore and to identify the underlying reasons that are driving such unreasonable behaviours on our roads.
19. Three findings stood out most from the study.
20. The first was there is a “me-first” mentality among road users. Those surveyed felt that there was a sense of frustration on the roads, they felt that others were in the way of their commute. When they were asked to describe their fellow road users, the two words that came up the most frequently were “impatient” and “aggressive”. This is quite interesting because this person says somebody else is “impatient and aggressive”, but that other person thinks that everyone else is “impatient” and “aggressive”. But who is “impatient” and “aggressive” now? The results showed that road users tend to prioritise their own “need” to get to their destinations at the fastest speed and shortest time possible. This “me-first” mentality means that people are less considerate of other road users, and they do so at the expense of road safety or etiquette.
21. Another finding that was consistent across all road users, is that most road users tend to think of very positively of themselves when asked to rate their personal level of safety and graciousness. On the other hand, they will rate other road users negatively.
22. A few examples that were cited, when car drivers are asked if they signal early to indicate their intent to other road users, 83% said that they do so. But when they are asked if other car drivers signal early to indicate their intent, 62% said that other drivers do not signal early. This results reflects that “It’s not me – It’s them” mentality among our road users.
23. Such a mentality can lead to complacency, where road users feel that they have already done their part to contribute to safer roads and that there is nothing else they can do. And, this leads us to our next observation.
24. Road users surveyed tend to have a “It is someone else’s job” mentality. From the study, we found that many road users feel that it is the responsibility of others to make roads safer – it is the government’s job, it is the responsibility of other road users, and this ties in with the other two findings, which is “I’m the good one, others are the impatient and aggressive lot” and “other people need to do their part, I’ve done enough”. When asked why they feel people are not being gracious on the road, 45%, close to half, said that “Unless the government were to provide monetary incentives, we don’t see a need to be gracious to their fellow road users”. Those surveyed also felt that people tend to “assume that other people will take care of their safety”. A good example would be pedestrians who are crossing the roads with their eyes fixed on their mobile devices, without paying any attention to the traffic from the left or right.
25. There are lessons to be drawn from this study and from our experience. And the lesson is that, let’s not contribute to the problem, let’s start to become part of the solution. I’m reminded of the song by Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”. The song’s lyrics goes, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change”. Everyone’s attention, action and behaviour can contribute to a safer and more pleasant experience on roads.
26. The findings from the study have shown that there is much more that we can do, each and every one of us, can do and needs to do, to promote a culture of graciousness amongst our road users. At the end of the day, it starts with us. This is why the theme of this RoadSense Carnival is “Take the Road to Responsibility”, and serves as a reminder that all road users are responsible for our own safety and the safety of others whom they are sharing the roads with.
27. This RoadSense Carnival is one of many other engagement initiatives that the Traffic Police and our partners will continue to roll out over the year. Some activities in the second half of the year include:
28. Through these engagement events, we hope to raise awareness on the prevalent attitudes on the roads and remind road users of the importance of road safety.
29. To end, I would like to express my appreciation to the Singapore Road Safety Council for co-organising this Carnival. I would also like to thank all our partners and stakeholders that have joined us on this journey, to ensure we have safer roads for all.
30. On that note, I wish you a very good morning and let’s work on this together. Thank you very much, let’s have safer roads for Singapore.