Thursday, December 22, 2016

The worrying trend of road etiquette in Singapore

The number of serious accidents on Singapore roads is disturbing.

I commute between three cities – Melbourne is where I call “home”, Kuala Lumpur my “second home”, and Singapore is where I work.

Few observe traffic rules in Kuala Lumpur. The inclination is, when you see traffic light turning yellow, you depress your car’s accelerator harder. And don’t expect vehicles to stop for you if you are a pedestrian on zebra-crossings. You may be mad at being “locked” out by someone who double-park besides your car? Wait until you face with a triple-parking situation! And motorcycle riders are so suicidal in zig-zagging at high speed from everywhere. You must be an idiot to follow speed limits there; cars from the back will impatiently honk you to drop dead!

Being one who has been living in Melbourne for years, I have learned to respect the road rajas in Kuala Lumpur. In Melbourne, very rarely you experience situations where people don’t observe road rules or courtesies. So you can confidently step into the zebra-crossing box even though a vehicle is seemingly coming your way. HE OR SHE WILL STOP FOR YOU. Knowing that Malaysia has still light years to go in this respect, I act defensively in Kuala Lumpur. And I have yet to get into trouble with the road rajas there.

I had always assumed Singaporeans are the most law-abiding people on earth – until I was cut down by a cab driver while doing my morning walk one day. My wife and I had waited for the pedestrian crossing light to turn green before we stepped forward. But half way through and out of the blue, a cab driver sped straight onto me. I had to spend forty-eight days in hospital and undergo ten surgeries!

After the incident, I decided to become more observant. Oh no; many Singaporeans drivers are just as bad!

I stay at the Cairnhill area; the number of drivers who were trying to beat red lights around the area is simply beyond reasonableness! One day I telephoned a traffic police inspector to tell her that a small lorry was still trying to cross a certain busy thoroughfare even though his side of the light had already turned red for some good seconds. The inspector appreciated my informing her, but she said she just couldn’t do anything if I did not want make a formal police report.

I honestly think the traffic police have to revise their SOPs. An inquiry will definitely instill fear and eliminate thoughtlessness. This will go a long way to cultivate civic-consciousness and reduce pain, sufferings and death!

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