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Distracted driving The cost and 6 ways to stay safe

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The leading cause of road traffic accidents in Singapore is distracted driving.

The facts

Latest statistics show that 59 motorists died and 2,710 were injured during a one-year period as a result of drivers failing to keep a proper lookout on our roads.

One of the causes of these deaths and injuries is that when something unexpected happens, motorists are not always ready to react. In addition, an increasing number of distractions in the car make it more difficult for motorists to pay attention. The main culprit is, of course, the smartphone.

Legal advice

The law in Singapore states that anyone caught holding any mobile device while driving can be found guilty of committing an offence. As long as you are holding the device while the vehicle is moving, you can be charged.

It’s not illegal to use a mobile device when the car is stationary, but motorists are strongly advised not to handle their device at a red light.

The Penalties

First-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 and/or jailed for up to six months. Repeat offenders face up to $2,000 in fines and/or up to 12 months in jail.

Penalties and shocking statistics aside, motorists continue to allow themselves to be distracted and put lives at risk. According to a survey carried out by Samsung, a whopping 83 % of drivers continue to use their handphones whilst on the move.

What’s the answer?

1. If you really must use your phone whilst in your car, in Singapore it is not illegal to use a mobile device that is mounted on a holder or dashboard.

Of course it is not completely risk-free but it certainly minimizes the risk factors and is one way to ensure a safer ride. Note, though, although it isn’t illegal, you are advised not to use headphones with your hands-free mobile device. Headphones block out important sounds, such as sirens and horns. In general you’re much less aware of what is happening around you.

2. Using navigation systems can pose another significant risk. Again, you can minimize this by making sure either your GPS or phone is pre-set and mounted before your journey.

3. When it comes to radios and other sound systems, pre-set the volume and sound track before you set off, then leave well alone.

4. Other major distractions include talking to other passengers. Particularly avoid any confrontational conversations with passengers – especially between parents and kids. Any form of heated discussion behind the wheel is highly dangerous so pull over safely or wait until you have exited the vehicle.

5. Keep food and drink out of reach, preferably in the boot so that you won’t be tempted. Out of sight, out of mind.

6. Having animals and especially dogs in the car is a major distraction. Our advice is to invest in a dog safety belt so that your dog remains in one place ensuring less disruption and the safety of your dog too!

Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember it’s vital to have good car cover.
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