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Kiasu drivers in Singapore How to come out ahead
By Tony Watts
What is it with Singaporean drivers and tailgating? Eating is without a doubt the number one sport in Singapore, but tailgating pushes hard against its rear bumper. Eating first, tailgating second.
Some time ago I was in Germany, being driven around by a young engineer. He stared at me in shock when I pointed out that he left a considerable gap between himself and the car in front. “But it would be dangerous to drive any closer,” he said in earnest. Never mind that on the damp Autobahn he was driving at 220km/h – the dangerous thing, he knew, would be to drive too close to the car in front.
Funnily enough, on the ECP coming home from the airport I felt much less safe at 80km/h – the uncle driving the cab was far too close to the car in front and worse, he seemed to be nodding off. Even if he was following the ‘two-second rule’, which suggests a two-second gap between yourself and the vehicle in front is enough to allow for braking and reaction times, his snoozing was not going to be helpful.
Kiasu drivers mean trouble
Recently I drove a borrowed BMW with radar-controlled cruise control along the CTE, and it was a nightmare. The system cleverly leaves a sensible, safe gap behind the vehicle in front. What the engineers who designed it could not have forseen is that a sensible gap in Germany equals a space just big enough for a kiasu driver to swerve into in Singapore: Every 30 seconds or so the system was jamming on the brakes to avoid these swerving cars.
I was so frustrated I switched the system off. After 15 years driving in Singapore, I can read kiasu drivers well enough to know that the gap in front of me is only valuable if there’s not a gap somewhere else.
You could get uptight, or just back off a bit and let it go. But it’s not always that easy. I’ve been caught in a traffic jam – seven drivers who had obviously been tailgating had crashed into each other. It’s a depressingly familiar sight. It’s enough to raise a wry smile and a slow clap – if it weren’t so dangerous. And when it comes time to renew your car insurance, find a good insurer who weeds out these idiots so you don’t end up subsidizing their behavior.
Statistics don’t lie
Like most car owners I grumble about insurance premiums, and as I haven’t made a claim since I’ve been in Singapore it seems like money down the drain. That is until I see an image of a car crushed under a tree, and realize its value.
And here’s the thing – the General Insurance Association recently revealed that in 2016 there were 161,361 reported accidents in Singapore, with a vehicle population of 956,430. That’s a crash for nearly one in every six vehicles on the road.
How to come out ahead
I need an insurer that weeds out the bad drivers and covers me in case of an errant tree. And what if I didn’t have to pay a middleman to sell it to me? I decided to buy online through BudgetDirect, and cut my insurance bill by 40%.
I dislike kiasu drivers with a passion, but when it comes to insurance, I’m the king of kiasu.
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