Monday, May 13, 2013

"Stop the killing on the roads" - Editorial, The Straits Times

"Stop the killing on the roads," editorial in The Straits Times, 13 May 2013.

"AT LEAST three people here come to an untimely end on the roads every week. Three cyclists died recently in as many days. A professor's wife lost her life under a double-decker bus. Two young brothers were killed when a cement mixer ran over them while they were cycling. They made the news; many others did not. All of the deaths were tragic. They were both needless and avoidable.

With over 965,000 vehicles and millions of pedestrians and cyclists jostling on the roads in a land-scarce city, to flout the rules, act inconsiderately or push one's luck is to court disaster. There were 327,503 traffic violations last year, many of which had the potential of causing more harm than what transpired. It is safe to assume that hundreds of thousands of other illegal and dangerous acts escaped detection. Law enforcers cannot be everywhere and, like street cameras, can pose only a deterrent effect. Saving lives will call for preventive action undertaken by all. Instead of playing a cat-and-mouse game while cutting corners to gain a dubious advantage on the roads, all road users need to take personal responsibility for the safety of not just themselves but also other road users.

Fostering such a road culture will take time but is well worth the effort as safety consciousness paired with graciousness on the streets can palpably transform the daily experience of people on the move. The Traffic Police's plan to reward deserving drivers, as part of the Safer Roads Singapore movement, can help to promote good habits. Civic groups should assist by reaching out to other road users as well - cyclists, young pedestrians, the elderly, and foreign workers (particularly those from teeming cities with hell-bent motorists).

Heavy vehicles continue to deserve more attention because their drivers, in an elevated position, have to cope with blind spots and comparatively reduced manoeuvrability. Other road users often do not make enough allowance for such limitations and take their chances. Involved in 10 fatalities in the first three months of this year, drivers of these behemoths have to be dealt with firmly when they are caught speeding.

Apart from "enforcement, engagement and education" strategies, it is prudent to also closely study "black spots" where accidents tend to occur more frequently. Road engineering, markings, signage and competing traffic flows might be hazardous in one way or another. Improving traffic management at certain busy junctions should also be considered. In the end though, the roads are only as safe as the people who use it. There is no use pointing fingers. Motorists, cyclists, pedestrians - all - must play their part."


vilakshan said...

Like your blog. would like to share a link of news item on BBC website, relating to cycling culture in Holland.

Jason said...

Just out of interest, what percentage of Singapore's surface area is covered by roads? How does it compare to other countries?