The Traffic Police are keeping a closer watch on the roads.Besides deploying more officers, they are also studying the possibility of adding more speed cameras. The move is aimed at tackling the increase in traffic violations by motorists.
Last year, the Traffic Police recorded 327,500 traffic violations – 3.6 per cent more than the year before. This was 316,214 in 2011, and 304,472 in 2010, and these numbers make up offences committed by both motorists and pedestrians. That’s an average of about 900 violations every day.
Most involved motorists speeding and beating red lights. Other violations include road-hogging, using a mobile phone while driving, and failing to signal. And it’s a problem the Traffic Police plan to come down hard on.
Mr Cheang Keng Keong, Commander of Traffic Police, said: “When they do not see us around they will try to take a chance and commit traffic violations, and that’s why we need to increase our presence on the roads itself.”
To do this, they will beef up enforcement by deploying auxiliary police officers, digitise current enforcement cameras by 2014 so that summonses can be issued more quickly and study the possibility of adding more electronic eyes to the roads. In response to this, the Singapore Road Safety Council said in a statement that it welcomes the increased measures by Traffic Police to target such high-risk behaviour. Its Chairman Bernard Tay said: “These are urgently needed for the protection and safety of other road users. The new measures will also deter other motorists who are tempted to flout safety rules whenever they are in a hurry.”
On the whole, the traffic situation last year has improved, with fewer accidents and casualties. There were 7,168 accidents involving injuries and fatalities in 2012, a drop of nearly 760 cases, compared to 7,926 accidents in 2011. The total number of road fatalities also dipped – registering a decrease from 195 in 2011 to 169 in 2012.
Figures for two groups of road users – motorcyclists and their pillions, as well as pedestrians – also saw improvement.
Motorcycle fatalities fell to 76 in 2012, from 99 the year before, while pedestrian deaths dropped slightly – from 49 in 2011 to 44 in 2012. Still, the police say it’s important to drive home the importance of safety – through stepped-up community engagement and outreach efforts. Children are one group of road users the Police will pay close attention to. Other road users the police consider vulnerable include cyclists and the elderly.
Mr Cheang added: “I think besides the ongoing programmes we have with the schools, and the visits to the road safety park, we’re also in discussion with MOE to customise certain programmes for the schools. And we’ve also started some programmes with the pre-schoolers whereby they’re given road safety tips even at a young age.”
The police are also looking into the possibility of harsher penalties for traffic offences that occur in school zones. Accidents involving heavy vehicles have also come under the spotlight. This comes after the recent case of two brothers Nigel and Donovan Yap, who were both killed earlier this week a cement-mixer truck. Traffic Police say accidents involving heavy vehicles with injuries or fatalities made up just 3 per cent of the total number in the last three years.
The top causes of accidents involving such vehicles are failure to keep a proper lookout for other road users, failure to give way to traffic with right of way and failure to have proper control of the vehicles.
But there’ll be no let-up on enforcement, and police will continue to work with companies that have large fleets of heavy vehicles, to advocate safe road habits. In 2012, 4,441 summonses were issued to heavy vehicle drivers, up from 4,294 in 2011, and 3,646 in 2010. More initiatives to improve safety are in the pipeline, and details will be made available in the upcoming Budget debate.