The Impractical Mindsets of Singapore.

There are on average 950,000 private vehicles on the road; 24,000 taxicabs, this figure is still rising, 3262km of road, also an increasing figure. Of this 3262km of road, 150km are highways. The buses and trains take about 3 million people daily. In lieu of that fact, it would be a modest estimate to say that there is about 10-50% of the car population on the road at any one time in the day(inclusive of public non-housing car parks but not inclusive of taxicabs).

So…

Each car is roughly 2.5m long and between each car there is a gap of about half a meter at minimum. That makes each car 3m inclusive of gap. If we took 50% of the vehicles, that works out to about 1300km in total length, close to 50% of the total road length available, lets say that only 20% of that 50% are heading to the expressways. 206km of length, on a total of 150km of highway, hence, as you can see the jams on the highways often spill into the filter roads and adjoining arterial roads.

Which leads me to my next point, the number of accidents in Singapore is pretty high, though the number of fatal accidents, considering the population in Singapore that drive, is pretty low.

Road User Groups

2010

2011

DIFF

% DIFF

Motorcyclists & Pillion Riders

89

99

10

+11.2%

Motorcar Drivers and Passengers

14

16

2

+14.3%

Pedestrians

55

49

-6

-10.9%

Pedal Cyclists

16

15

-1

-6.3%

Others (including Bus Passengers/Drivers, Heavy and Light Goods Vehicles Drivers and Passengers, etc)

19

18

-1

-5.3%

TOTAL

193

197

+4

2.1%

Statistics from Traffic Police Singapore Website

So, as dangerous as riding is made out to be in Singapore, where the society is traditional and in possession of a mindset that riders are maniacs on two wheels, they often make it difficult for people whom ride. Most Chinese parents tell their children some Chinese proverb of some sort ‘When you drive a car, metal protects your flesh, When you ride a bike, your flesh protects the metal’. I guess they forgot to include the part where, ‘If you drive a car, your flesh is contained in a metal box that crushes on impact.’

‘Traffic Police will also implement a two-tiered theory test structure for learner riders of Class 2B motorcycles on 27 February 2012. All learner riders will be required to pass two separate theory tests – the Basic Theory Test and the Riding Theory Test before they are allowed to take the practical riding test. This allows for deeper and wider testing of the local traffic rules and motorcycle handling knowledge, which is helpful at increasing riding competency and reducing the incidence of accidents.’

Why? There is no reason why having 2 theory tests would ‘increase riding competency and reduce the incidence of accidents.’ It is a sweeping statement with no actual hard data or evidence. Theoretically it might make sense, but at the end of the day when you put it on the table, there are no statistics to prove that these “tests” are adept at making people better drivers/riders.

In fact, I believe that having more tests, practical lessons and also making the practical tests extremely difficult to pass, creates repressed and complacent drivers and riders that will go crazy on the roads. I have had many instances of friends whom have gotten into accidents within the first week of passing, and most of the time, it was their own fool-hardy actions that were to blame. In Singapore, passing the test and doing well in the test means everything, but no one really knows what to do AFTER the test is over. We are a society based on spoon-feeding information and theoretical matter. However there is no actual proper practical learning.  Yes, we may have mostly new cars and bikes, with the COE (Certificate-Of-Entitlement) system, most of our cars and bikes on the road are new. Our cars and bikes are inspected every YEAR after the third year of registration and the drivers and riders are well trained in hazard courses. Yet somehow the licensing department in Singapore has somehow missed a very important detail.

One CANNOT compensate even with the newest and most well maintained technology, against stupidity, recklessness, Rash and Hasty Decision Making.

Most road accidents are due to riders in Singapore thinking that they are batman on his batcruiser after they pass the tests and car drivers in Singapore having the mindset that bikers in Singapore are ‘expandable’. Further aggravating that matter, even between car drivers, there are the “big” car drivers whom often bully the “small” car drivers on the road. The drivers in these bigger cars often make rash and reckless overtakes and they often have tardy lane discipline. Again I am not trying to generalize or label drivers with bigger cars, but it is a worrying trend that I think the licensing people should take a look at. It is usually the younger drivers, whom drive out their parents “bigger” cc (cubic-centimeter) cars that are rash and they feel that they are well protected in the car and they adopt a mindset that “No one dares to hit me because I am driving a TANK!”.

This as one can observe is a broth for disaster, and often no one in Singapore would ever give way to another driver and everyone ends up driving like they have their panties in a bunch. From closer observation, it could be inferred that these mindsets are a spin-off of everything Singaporeans stand for, in school, at work, even with friends, people are always about “face”, and sadly, these concepts are often self-destructive at best and detrimental to the society at worst. Just to cut into that sweet spot in the lane, is it worth taking another persons life?

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2 comments

  1. Great article, Ryan!

    You raise a lot of interesting points.

    Are the figures in the columns the nationwide figure for “total number of deaths” per year for each category?

    Regarding your points you make about extended knowledge tests, here in the UK there is great emphasis put on training new drivers to be ‘risk aware’ and that appears to be helping them make better decisions.

    1. Thanks! yup, the table is the total number of deaths per year nation wide for each category.

      Regarding the extended knowledge tests, well over here the tests I would say are also focused at getting new drivers to be more ‘risk aware’. However, the tests here seem to make new drivers more complacent, it could be the mindsets of most people here, they feel that just because they pass the test, they are more qualified and tend to make decisions that put themselves and others at risk.

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