Monthly Archives: December 2008

Singapore Night Driving Safety Guide

Driving at night can be an enjoyable activity, without the hot sun and heavy traffic you see in the day. However, driving at night has its own risks too. I’ve compiled some of the key points to take note while driving at night.

Night Driving Danger

There are fewer car accidents at night due to the fewer cars in the road. However, due to less traffic, drivers tend to travel at high speeds and this increases the rate of fatality. The major causes of night accidents are exhaustion, lost of focus, drink driving and reduced visibility. Low light level also reduces depth perception and can cause delayed reflex actions.

Night Vision

Our eyes take time to adapt to brightly-lit places. It can take up to 30 minutes before our eyes function at 80% efficiency. Short-sightedness and night-blindness would further affect night vision.

When driving at night, glance around at different distances and focus on objects on the edge of your headlight beam. Refrain from focusing at a single distance as this increases eye fatigue. A poorly-lit object is easiest to see if you focus slightly to one side of it. Peripheral vision is less affected by poor light than central vision.

Watch your Speed!

Never drive beyond your range of vision. Singapore is generally well lit at night with plenty of street lamps. However, if you are driving with low or dipped beams you must reduce your speed commensurably. Following distances should also be increased, and the car ahead should be kept in the far limit of light from a dipped beam.

Don’t blind other drivers

Always dip your headlights before an approaching car comes within range. If the other driver fails to realize you are approaching, flick the beam back to high for an instant before dipping it again. Do not keep the high beam on – having two blinded drivers instead of one just doubles the risk. When approaching a car traveling in the opposite direction on a right-hand bend, remember to dip the beam early. Otherwise it will sweep across the curve and blind the other driver. Conversely, on a left-hand turn your headlights shine away from approaching traffic. However, it is good road manners to always dip your lights when another motorist approaches.

Point your headlights the right way

Headlights should be adjusted periodically, especially when your car is loaded more heavily than usual – this adjustment can be done at a garage. Having passengers in the back seat or heavy items in the boot can cause a dipped beam to shine too far ahead. This has the double disadvantage of dazzling oncoming drivers and failing to properly light the road. Always remember to reconfigure the beams when driving with a normal load again. Likewise, always adjust your tyre pressure before loading your car before holiday traveling.

Adapted from Robert Wood’s Article

Getting loans not so easy

Maria Almenoar
The Straits Times

THEY may have perfect credit histories and earn around $3,000 a month, but many consumers are finding it hard to get a car loan.

Faced with gloomy economic conditions, banks and financial institutions seem unwilling to lend and are tightening the credit lines they do hand out, according to car dealers. Some said they have ‘stacks’ of letters from banks rejecting loan applications from potential customers.

Said Mr Glenn Tan, chief executive of Subaru agent MotorImage: ‘It’s not that (customers) don’t want to buy a car. We have the bookings, but some cannot get the financing.’

One dealer estimated that up to 40 per cent of applications are now being rejected, compared with 15 per cent before the financial crisis. Other dealers put the rejection rate at about 25 per cent.

Even those who have secured loans cannot get full financing; many institutions are only offering to bankroll at most 80 per cent or 90 per cent of a car’s purchase price, dealers said.

Mr Walter Koh, manager at Vertex Automobile, which sells China-made Chery cars, said customers are being rejected if their income is ‘$1 below the required level’. He has seen customers who earn good salaries being denied loans for even the most inexpensive cars, like the off-peak Chery QQ, which costs around $12,000. If spread out over a 10-year loan period at full financing, it would come up to only about $150 a month. ‘It seems hard for customers,’ said Mr Koh.

Some dealers also pointed out that loan applications are taking longer than usual to be processed. On average, it should take about three days, but for some, the process now lasts between 10 and 12 days.

Mr Richard Wan, general manager of TTS Chana Automobile, said banks are ‘really scrutinising’ new borrowers.

Some banks admit that the global economic crisis has dampened their borrowing. Many are cutting back on lending, despite a $2.3 billion injection from the Government to unfreeze credit markets.

GE Money, which specialises in car loans and personal loans, said that it was reducing its risk in this ‘tough environment’ in a number of ways, including tightening credit. Citibank and United Overseas Bank said that while they would continue to be prudent in their consumer credit assessment, those with a solid income and good credit records should not have problems getting an auto loan.

Economist David Cohen noted that many banks are likely being tighter with their credit, though some are loath to acknowledge it publicly.

‘Given the recession that Singapore is in and the weakening in the labour market conditions, banks are going to be more stringent in who they lend out money to because it is risky lending to consumers,’ said Mr Cohen, director of Asian economics forecasting at Action Economics.

The credit crunch is making some first-time car buyers nervous.

Civil servant Lim Chye Soon, 22, booked a new 1,500cc Toyota Vios. He made a loan application about two weeks ago after certificate of entitlement premiums hit a record low of $2. He had put a $10,000 down payment for his $31,000 off-peak car, and now needs a 70 per cent loan. ‘My main concern is it won’t be approved. If that’s the case, I’ll have to find more money to put down for the car.’

Meanwhile, wealthier buyers do not seem to be having the same problems. Performance Motors, which brings in the high-end BMWs, said it has not noticed any difference in its loan rejection rates.

“Give way to buses” scheme to cut travelling time

Channel NewsAsia
Claire Huang, 938LIVE

Bus commuters can expect a smoother ride with the implementation of the Mandatory Give Way To Buses Scheme.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) says the pilot scheme will be rolled out along three roads from 20 December.

Under the new scheme, some 23 bus stops along Ang Mo Kio Ave 8, Bukit Batok East Ave 3 and Toh Tuck Road will be affected.

LTA said these roads are often congested and buses have a hard time exiting from the bus bays.

In a study conducted earlier, LTA said buses spent about 10 per cent of travelling time trying to get out of bus bays.

To reduce travelling time for passengers, LTA said the scheme has to be introduced.

Dr Chin Kian Keong, LTA’s chief engineer of transportation, said: “I think we’d like to widen all roads if that’s the case. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Singapore. There’s a limited amount of road space and it’s because of this reason, because there’s a limit to road space, we need to make sure that more people get to their destination faster and the way to do it is to give way to buses which carry much more people than cars. With that in place, more people should be able to get to their destinations faster.”

Under the pilot initiative, special yellow boxes and triangular “give way to buses” markings will be painted in front of selected bus stops along the three roads.

Signs will be installed ahead of these bus stops to indicate to motorists to slow down and give way to buses exiting the bus bays.

LTA said motorists who flout the rule will be fined S$130.

Most commuters 938LIVE spoke to, welcomed the new move.

“Maybe, (it can) help us to save time,” said a commuter.

But some motorists said the new scheme is unnecessary.

“It’s not really necessary because there is already a bus lane there. So when (it’s) peak period, no private vehicles are able to go into that lane, so the bus will not have problem (getting out of the buy bay). Outside the peak period, there are not many vehicles around, so actually there’s no need for the rules,” said a motorist.

LTA said it will assess the scheme after a three-month trial before deciding whether or not to extend it to more locations.