The Youngsters’ Traffic

For most people who visit Singapore, the traffic on the roads would seem to be orderly, regulated, and rule-bound. Especially for people visiting from India, the traffic in Singapore always appears to be highly controlled and methodical, compared to the chaos that rule the roads in most cities in India.

But apparently that is the perception. For every reading of a situation, there is a counter perspective.

If you are a driver in Singapore, of late, you would have noticed that the drivers on the roads are erratic, and if you carefull observe, these drivers are almost always in their early twenties or new drivers on the roads. If they also happen to have a fast car (which is often the case with the rich ones), then you could easily witness speeds in excess of 100 KMPH on city roads with criss cross driving behaviour to get ahead of most of the other normal drivers. I have been seeing this behaviour often. There is absolutely no patience even in some normal drivers. They just want to get one car space ahead by switching lanes, sometimes in a dangerous manner.

When cars switch lanes when the traffic signals turn green, that is not just dangerous but also outright discourteous, and indicates bad planning on the part of the driver who probably wishes to get to the extreme left or right. And when two lanes merge, alternate cars should go forward instead of all cars rushing forward to get ahead. Simple courtesies which have been in practice for a long time are being abandoned by the new drivers, and the older drivers seem to be having no choice but to follow.

Typically, I like to drive on the middle lane at a regular speed (something in the range of 60 KMPH in the city roads, and 80 – 90 KMPH on the highways), but sometimes I will be pushed to the rightmost lane because of a slow moving vehicle in front which has createda long vacuum in front of it. This vehicle should have chosen the left most lane which is the recommended lane for such vehicles, but they often do not follow that lane discipline. Trying to slow traffic is also a bad thing.

Fast moving youngsters worry me the most. The number of fast cars in Singapore is on the rise, despite the huge cost of owning such cars. The other issue on Singapore roads is the high-speed motorcycles, who are allowed to go on any lane (even the innermost high speed lanes). They dangerously weave in and out of traffic and could appear without any indication either ahead or behind you. Very thrilling indeed……but very dangerous as well. Both to the motorcycle rider and to the car riders. There seems to be no control on the behaviour of the motorcycle riders on Singapore roads.

Pedestrian crossings are sacrosanct in Singapore. Every vehicle has to stop completely and allow the pedestrians to cross on the zebra crossings. There are round big lights at most such crossings to warn the motorists. However, I am noticing that motorists tend to be careless these days, and try to speed up ahead of the approaching pedestrians. This has caused accidents as reported in the media in recent times.

I also notice that motorists who are entering an expressway from a slip road do not brake and stop while letting the traffic on the lane that they are cutting into go by……they just continue driving forcing the motorists who have the right of way to slow down rapdily. Again, this is dangerous behaviour on the part of the motorists who are joining the expressway.

And so on and so forth. You might say that I am trying to suggest ways to make the Singapore traffic even more perfect than it already is. I disagree. My point is that a very good traffic system is being gamed by aggressive drivers who are not following what they learnt in their driving schools. Some of them do not deserve their driving licenses. The best way to improve the situation is to enforce a driving test once every five years on each and every driver on Singapore roads. May be that will enforce some discipline. The other way is to increase the already high penalties on drivers who are erratic.

This tells us that even a good system is not necessarily the best when human behaviour comes into play.

Drive carefully and smartly. Follow the traffic rules. Do not follow the rash driving behaviour of some drivers. Follow your instincts, and follow your learning.


Vijay Srinivasan

6th March 2016


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