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All you need to know about driving in Silver Zones and School Zones

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If you are a parent who drives your child to school, you would have come across School Zones. These are areas around schools that have additional pedestrian crossings, parking restriction lines and “SLOW” road markings. They are meant to alert you to slow down when you are within close reach of the school.[1] On top of that, you are required to keep to a 40km/h speed limit for the roads fronting these schools when you see the “40km/h When Lights Flash” sign flashing during school peak hours. When the lights are not flashing, the speed limit of the roads revert to 50km/h.[2]

In addition to School Zones, Silver Zones were introduced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in 2014, emulating best practices in South Korea and New York where similar zones were established to enhance road safety for the elderly.[3] These were introduced in areas with a large population of senior citizens and where there have been past accidents involving seniors.

In these areas, roads have been narrowed and speed humps installed to slow down traffic. There are also two-stage crossings to allow elderly pedestrians to rest at the halfway mark while crossing the road. Here as well, speed limits are reduced to 40km/h, where feasible. Exceptions are made for emergency vehicles such as fire engines, ambulances, and Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force vehicles that are allowed to exceed the speed limit while on official duty.[4]

Special markings on footpaths guide the elderly to the nearest pedestrian crossings and transport amenities. Silver Zones are often situated near food courts and medical centres to make it convenient for seniors to get around.

Protecting our most vulnerable road users

Both these zones were implemented to promote road safety among our most vulnerable group of road users - children and senior citizens. The loss in hearing and vision that comes with aging often make seniors susceptible to accidents.

When it comes to young children, their small physique puts them at equal risk on the roads as drivers and others may easily miss them. Their less developed cognitive abilities, too, make it difficult for them to judge correctly the proximity, speed and direction of moving vehicles. With their softer heads, they are also more likely to sustain serious head injuries should they be involved in a traffic accident. In 2017, 132 children below 12 were injured in road traffic accidents in the first half of the year, up from 128 for the same period last year.[5] Adolescents are no less at risk as they are often prone to reckless behaviour and may take risks when crossing roads.

The implementation of Silver Zones has worked well. LTA reported a 75 per cent drop in accidents within these zones. Buoyed by its success, it plans to put up a total of 50 Silver Zones in residential estates by 2025.[6]

However, overall, traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrian casualties continue to account for a disproportionate number of road traffic accidents resulting in injuries or death. Find out more here.

Tougher penalties for drivers committing traffic offences in Silver Zones and School Zones

The numbers are concerning and warrant stricter measures. To address this, The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has put in place higher composition fines and demerit points for traffic offences committed in Silver Zones.

Motorists who commit offences such as failing to slow down or give way when approaching pedestrian crossings such as signalised junctions at Silver Zones or School Zones will be liable for higher demerit points and composition fines.[7]

Motorists who speed and drive against the flow of traffic in Silver Zones or School Zones will also be liable for higher demerit points and composition fines. Composition fines for certain traffic offences committed in Silver Zones and School Zones will be raised by as much as $100.

Hopefully, these stricter deterrents will keep motorists on their toes and make our roads a safer place for both the young and the elderly, as well as lower the rate of accidents among them.

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[1] https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltagov/en/newsroom/2014/3/2/factsheet--enhancing-safety-on-our-roads-for-all-road-users.html

[2] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/more-road-safety-measures-within-school-zones-to-be-implemented

[3] https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltagov/en/newsroom/2014/3/2/factsheet--enhancing-safety-on-our-roads-for-all-road-users.html

[4] https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltagov/en/getting_around/driving_in_singapore/driving_rules_and_regulations.html

[5] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/more-children-hurt-in-road-traffic-accidents-in-first-half-of-2017

[6] https://www.mot.gov.sg/what-we-do/motoring-road-network-and-infrastructure/inclusive-transport-infrastructure

[7] https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltagov/en/newsroom/2014/3/2/factsheet--enhancing-safety-on-our-roads-for-all-road-users.html

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