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Strong measures make roads safer for all

Strong measures make roads safer for all

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 07 Apr 2021

Official oversight of road users, vehicles and speed is key to sustaining safety and laws come into play to stop brutish behaviour in its tracks.

The introduction of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill in Parliament this week tackles the issue of road safety and behaviour on several fronts. The Bill, among other things, proposes increased penalties for individuals who promote or take part in illegal speed trials, and seeks to introduce conditions for the forfeiture of vehicles involved in such events. If passed into law, the proposals will give the courts more leeway to disqualify motorists from driving if they are convicted in road rage cases. Individuals who obstruct, prevent or defeat the course of justice for road traffic incidents will also be penalised. The sanction covers those who mislead the police by facing penalties on behalf of someone else, as well as those who mislead by asking someone else to face penalties on their behalf. Traffic laws will also make it an offence for riders of e-bikes, also known as power-assisted bicycles, to be on the road without having passed a theory test. Other planned changes will require companies to designate someone sufficiently senior to make a report when their vehicles have been used to commit traffic offences, or face penalties. Firms would also have to keep records for a longer period.

Clearly, the common intent of this wide range of proposals is to preserve the status of roads as common space that is safe for use by all. The primary distinction made on roads - between vehicles and pedestrians - is difficult enough to maintain when some drivers are careless or when some people cross roads unsafely or jaywalk. Newer forms of mobility have created a host of additional problems, such as the sharing of space itself between those who walk and those who use personal mobility devices whose weight and speed affect the safety of pedestrians potentially.

Yet, roads remain at the top of concerns with regard to traffic and safety. The proposed changes would strengthen the regulatory framework so that Singapore can live up to its reputation, recognised in a World Bank publication in 2019, of having roads that are not only considered the safest in the region but that also rank as being among the safest globally. According to the report, road safety management rules and regulations implemented here have resulted in significant strides in managing the effects of collision arising from roadway design, human behaviour and the physical condition of vehicles.

Official oversight of road users, vehicles and speed is key to sustaining safety. The onset of Covid-19, with its attendant stress on everyday life, can have an influence on behaviour. Anger, extending to rage, can be caused by the general atmosphere of insecurity and lead some to act irresponsibly, including on the roads, where the physical and psychological consequences of accidents can be devastating. This is where laws come into play to stop brutish behaviour in its tracks.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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