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The incidence of traffic accidents resulting in fatalities surged from 104 in 2022 to 131 in 2023. Image: Pexels

Road Safety In Singapore: When Will We Learn?

Our Lion City, often lauded for its meticulous urban planning and efficient public services, finds itself in a paradoxical struggle: despite being a city-state with one of the most well-regulated traffic systems in the world, road safety remains a grave concern.

Statistics from the Singapore Police Force’s “Annual Road Traffic Situation 2023” report released in February 2024 paint a troubling picture, highlighting the dire need for heightened road safety awareness and more responsible behaviour among road users.


Alarming trends among motorcyclists

One cannot ignore the alarming increase in traffic accidents involving motorcyclists and elderly pedestrians.

Motorcyclists, though constituting only 14.4% of the total vehicle population, are disproportionately represented in traffic accidents. Shockingly, they were involved in 53.5% of all traffic accidents and accounted for 50.0% of traffic fatalities.

This stark disparity underscores a critical issue in road safety practices among motorcyclists and perhaps points to gaps in both driver training and awareness.

The plight of elderly pedestrians

The situation is even more distressing for elderly pedestrians. Despite the elderly making up just 19.1% of the population, they were involved in 68.4% of all fatal pedestrian accidents, accounting for 69.2% of pedestrian fatalities.

These figures are not merely statistics but a stark reminder of the vulnerability of our senior citizens on the roads. The increase in fatal accidents involving the elderly by 13.0% compared to 2022 is a tragic testament to the inadequacies in our current road safety measures.


Long-standing efforts yet persistent problems

The irony is painful: Singapore, a nation that prides itself on safety and efficiency, has had to conduct road safety awareness campaigns for the past 15 years, spearheaded by the Singapore Traffic Police and the Singapore Road Safety Council.

The persistence of these campaigns highlights a critical failure in societal behaviour and a worrying apathy towards adopting good road safety habits. Despite these efforts, the number of traffic accidents resulting in fatalities increased by 26.0% in 2023, from 104 cases in 2022 to 131 cases, surpassing pre-COVID levels.

Similarly, fatalities rose by 25.9%, from 108 in 2022 to 136 in 2023, exceeding the pre-COVID level of 118 in 2019.

Why, then, do so many road users fail to adopt safe practices? Part of the issue may lie in a lack of enforcement or perhaps the leniency with which traffic violations are treated.

Another factor could be the complacency that comes from familiarity – the belief that “it won’t happen to me” until it tragically does.

Moreover, there might be insufficient education on the impact of reckless behaviour, particularly among younger drivers and motorcyclists, who often perceive themselves as invincible.


Singapore Road Safety Month 2024: A collective responsibility

Themed “Road Safety Begins with You and Me”, Singapore Road Safety Month 2024 aims to address these issues head-on. This month-long campaign launched on 1 Jun underscores the collective responsibility we all bear in making our roads safer.

Recognising that inculcating gracious road user behaviour begins from young, parents, grandparents, and caregivers are encouraged to be good role models for their children by adopting good road safety habits. To reinforce this theme, road safety banners (above) will be strategically placed at high footfall locations, serving as constant reminders of our shared responsibility in road safety.

To increase road safety awareness among road users, the Traffic Police will be publishing a series of road safety videos. The first video, shown during the SRSM launch event, encourages elderly pedestrians to adopt good road use habits for their safety, highlighting the over-representation of this group in accidents. This series of videos will be subsequently screened on various platforms, such as free-to-air television and the “ Use Your RoadSense” Facebook page.

The need for a cultural shift

It is a sad and bitter irony that despite the best efforts of the authorities, road safety awareness has not translated into the necessary behavioural change among road users. The onus of responsibility lies not just with the authorities, but with each individual who takes to the road.

For Singapore to truly progress in its quest for road safety, a cultural shift is imperative. Road users must internalise the principles of caution, consideration, and responsibility. This requires a multifaceted approach: stricter enforcement of traffic laws, more comprehensive road safety education from a young age, and perhaps most crucially, a societal commitment to valuing every life on the road.

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