Published: 21 October 2017
1. Mr Bernard Tay, Chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council & President of the Automobile Association of Singapore, distinguished guests, award recipients, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. I thank the Singapore Road Safety Council for organising this dinner and inviting me and the rest of us. This is a good opportunity to congratulate the Automobile Association (AA) of Singapore on their 110th anniversary.
SAFER ROADS: A COLLECTIVE EFFORT
2. Let me start out by talking a little bit about our partnership with the Road Safety Council, as well as the AA, and what it has meant for our roads. Over the last 10 years, road fatalities, or the number of people who die on the roads, has come down by 30 per cent, even as the number of trips has increased. But still, every road accident which results in a fatality is one too many, period.
3. For us, of particular concern, are those who are more vulnerable on the roads, such as motorcyclists. There are 5,000 casualties just for motorcyclists every year. The Traffic Police has been rolling out policies and measures to intervene, and we have been very fortunate to have the support of the SRSC in this, the Singapore Ride Safe campaign, as well as other measures. Both SRSC and AA Singapore have been critical partners for my Ministry and the Traffic Police, to bring across good road safety practices to try and save lives. In some ways, these are unsung efforts because it is not the sexiest part of what is done out there, but if you think about it – lives saved, limbs saved – it is critical work. It also makes good business sense, because it reduces the amount of disruption to businesses that take place through accidents for a variety of reasons.
4. Today, I will touch on three points. First, the use of technology in a way to make our roads safer. Second, strengthening partnerships with industry stakeholders, and third, the culture of gracious driving on roads.
ADOPTION OF TECHNOLOGY
5. First, on technology, SRSC and the Traffic Police have worked with the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to raise road safety awareness. They have started using Virtual Reality for public education. This enables road users to experience dangerous situations without putting them in actual danger.
6. By 2019, all new learner motorists will undergo computer simulation training. Learners will pick up defensive driving skills in a safe and controlled environment, and trials will commence in February 2018 at the three driving schools.
7. And a big announcement is that the Traffic Police will trial an Intelligent Driving Circuit (IDC) at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC) in 2021, with full implementation at SSDC in 2023. The IDC is the first in South-East Asia. Intelligent cameras and sensors will be used to assess the learners during their lessons and during the practical test in the circuit. This will result in better outcomes for the learners and more flexibility in scheduling circuit tests. A tester will also no longer be needed in the car.
8. Using technology to conduct driving lessons and tests will enhance the effectiveness of lessons, increase productivity and allow lessons to be taken outside of the current operating hours to better suit learners' schedules. The result of it is that the period of learning can be substantially shortened. That is one aspect, technology. This is only one aspect of technology I am sharing. I am sure it is going to change quite substantially over the next few years.
PARTNERING KEY INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS
9. The second is our partnership with key industry stakeholders. We cannot do what we are doing without key partners like yourselves – SRSC, AA Singapore, the corporates which are here today, and all of us working together to promote safer driving.
10. AA Singapore has been championing this effort and has made tremendous contributions over the years. AA Singapore has been running vocational driving courses to ensure that our heavy vehicle drivers practise good driving habits, as such drivers have been involved in a number of bad accidents over the years. Obviously the heavy vehicles, by their very nature, can cause damage if they are involved in an accident, so this has been very important for us to do. AA Singapore brought in expertise from overseas, people and standards of training, and this has helped to really increase the professionalism in the sector.
11. AA Singapore also teamed up with SRSC for this year's Road Safety Awards with two subsidiaries AA Singapore Academy and AA-SPCS to sponsor the Champion Awards.
12. If you look at one of this year's winners, NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative Limited, they took this very seriously and set up a Safety Committee to look at the ground practices and improve them. They invested in regular maintenance of both the vehicle fleet as well as the tracking system through GPS. That gave them the data that allowed them to analyse the rider behaviours. With that, they were able to correct the rider behaviours, train their riders better and equip their riders with a training package, including a 2-week attachment to a Senior rider for road familiarisation. They also gave their riders personal protective equipment – riding gloves, safety vests with reflective stripes.
13. There are many other similar stories from the other companies here today. We thank you for your efforts and that has shown results, because as I said earlier, even with the vast increase in number of riders, the number of fatalities have come down by 30%.
BUILDING A CULTURE OF GRACIOUSNESS AND ROAD SAFETY
14. My third point tonight is really the kind of drivers we want on our roads. Many of us who drive have enough experience with people who are irritated, who are less than gracious, who think that every second matters to an extent where they have to cut ahead. We want to change that culture, and make it a bit more gracious. That is the theme of SRSC's and the Traffic Police's Safer Road campaign this year, which is "Choose Graciousness".
15. As drivers, it is not very difficult if we apply our mind, keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front, but we don't really see that very much. The trouble is that, as many drivers find out, you keep a distance, someone cuts in, unfortunately. It's very simple, you just count three seconds, that should be the distance.
16. Second, signal earlier. All our cars have signals but I think many people forget that their cars have signals. Signalling, changing lanes carefully and giving way to other motorists and pedestrians, particularly. I think if we can instil that culture to a greater extent, it will make us an even safer society, the road safety culture will improve and the number of road accidents should come down.
17. For people who rely on driving for their livelihood, deliveries, how do they manage the pressure of having to deliver on time while at the same time driving safely. We have an example – Mr Ahmad Yusoff Bin Awi – he will receive an award later. He has been driving for many years as a delivery rider with Pizza Hut, 11 years, no accidents. What does he do? He checks his motorcycle regularly. He rides safely. He checks, he is careful, he is conscientious. It takes a little bit of effort, but it is completely doable. We look forward to seeing many more such stories. Really, we are a nation of good drivers, as it shows up in the road statistics. At the margins, there are people who perhaps haven't picked up the best habits and I think we can improve that even more.
18. I thank the sponsors who have donated generously to SRSC. Your contributions go a long way to enhance road safety in Singapore. I hope all of you will continue to support and partner SRSC. Congratulations to the organisers and award recipients. I wish you an enjoyable evening. Thank you and good night.
 AA-Singapore Police Co-operative Society ("AA-SPCS"), which provides manpower (driving testers) to the driving schools.