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Why do Singaporeans flout traffic rules?



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Singaporeans are generally a law-abiding lot. Yet when it comes to road traffic laws, we don’t fare so well.

A road traffic survey carried out to understand the attitudes and behaviour of road users found that we can be impatient, selfish and aggressive and have ‘become less aware and tolerant of others.’

The survey, carried out by an independent research agency for the Singapore Police Force, found that we are well aware of traffic rules and undersand the importance of road safety. Yet we flout the rules when we can get away with it.

For instance, despite knowing it’s unsafe, some pedestrians still jaywalk whilst using their mobile devices. Motorists, including motorbikers and heavy vehicle drivers, admit to bad behaviour such as speeding, beating amber lights, using their phones and changing lanes without signalling.

According to the survey, many road users believe that poor road safety attitudes were largely emotionally driven and included reasons such as impatience, selfishness and aggressive behaviour.

It also suggested that road users might be taking more chances and becoming more reckless because they were aware of huge improvements in vehicle safety and road safety in general, therefore they indulged in more risky behaviour.

Read the full findings of the report.

Heavy Vehicle Drivers:

Often blamed for causing traffic accidents, heavy vehicle drivers are actually the most cautious when it comes to road safety. Even so, they could fare better in some areas.

*73% of them speed when traffic is light

*51% beat amber lights when traffic is light, while 43% overtake or switch lanes without signalling

*39% answer the phone while driving when traffic is light

Motorists:

While most motorists claim to be empathetic towards pedestrians, it does not stop them from breaking traffic rules.

*87% speed when traffic is light and 55% on a typical day

*51% beat amber lights when traffic is light

*50% overtake or switch lanes without signalling when traffic is light

Vocational drivers:

Despite being advocates for road safety, vocational drivers are also guilty of speeding and driving in an aggressive manner.

*86% speed when traffic is light and 58% speed on a typical day

*50% pick and drop off passengers in unauthorised places and 46% cut others abruptly to pick up passengers

*49% beat amber lights when traffic is light

Motorcyclists:

Motorcyclists are frequently in a vulnerable position yet many ride without paying attention to safety, speeding and weaving between busy lanes.

*81% speed when traffic is light, and 63% on a typical day

*45% overtake or switch lanes without signalling when traffic is light

*41% beat amber lights when traffic is light

Cyclists:

While most cyclists abide by traffic rules, the survey found that many don’t wear a helmet and continue to cycle on footpaths.

*66% claim not to wear a helmet in light or no traffic

*53% cycle on footpaths despite light or no traffic

Standard pedestrians:

Guilty of jaywalking and using their smartphones while crossing roads, this group is least aware and engaged about road safety, compared to all other road users.

*80% jaywalk on minor roads, and 64% admit to crossing during the red man signal

*63% admit to making calls, 54% admit to texting on their mobiles while crossing roads

*61% listen to music with headphones while crossing roads

Child pedestrians:

Children appear to be more conscious of road safety compared to the elderly and standard pedestrians, provided they don’t learn unsafe road behaviour from the adults they are with.

*46% would jaywalk when they are with their parents, against 39% who would jaywalk when they are alone

*42% would never cross the road during the red man signal, but 28% would when they are with their parents

Elderly pedestrians:

Despite being advocates for road safety with their families and other road users, elderly pedestrians, too, are guilty of unsafe behaviours like jaywalking.

*85% encourage motorists to drive/ride safely

*69% jaywalk on minor roads

*52% cross during the red man signal

Why do Singaporeans flout the traffic rules?

According to the survey, many road users believe that poor road safety attitudes were largely emotional and included reasons such as impatience, selfishness and aggressive behaviour.

Here’s a breakdown:

*75% of road users believe it is impatience, unwillingness to wait

*72% claim it is because of selfishness and unwillingness to give way

*62% say it is due to distractions (from smartphones, music players)

*55% say it’s due to aggressive behavior

The report finds that if the top reasons for poor road safety attitudes and behaviours are emotional factors then, “we’ve clearly become less aware and tolerant of others”, which it says has led to unsafe road behaviours.

Meanwhile a report from consumer researchers, ValueChampion, backed up findings in the traffic policy survey. It found that although there is an overall trend of Singapore’s roads becoming safer, “reckless driving remains a significant problem.” Whether it’s speeding, not turning carefully, or not maintaining a proper lookout. Such actions that could qualify as reckless driving account for more than half of recorded accidents in 2017.

The report by ValueChampion concluded that the issue of reckless driving was not surprising given “the increase of distractions present in the car ranging from cell phones to Bluetooth and entertainment systems. Furthermore, it also shows us that driving in Singapore can be a high stakes game filled with stress and a desire to get to a destination as quickly as possible.”

Full report can be found here at Singapore Police Force website.

Road traffic accident statistics at ValueChampion

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