Tag Archives: News

Safety experts call for more public education to curb underage driving

Ilmeda Saad
Channel NewsAsia

Safety experts are calling for road safety education to be extended to upper secondary students.

This comes after the death of a 16-year-old boy who slammed into a tree while driving without a licence on Monday.

In Singapore, anyone below the age of 18 is not allowed to drive.

A 17-year-old youth, who wants to be known simply as “John”, could very well typify your average youth on the verge of getting his driving licence.

Like other boys Channel NewsAsia spoke to, he has heard of friends taking joyrides using their parents’ car. They are underaged, without a driving licence, and just out to have a good time.

“John” said: “(They do this) partly (due to) peer pressure, partly to have fun, and they (do not) have to waste money on taxi fares.”

But these bouts of fun can be dangerous, with some youths revving up to 140 kilometres per hour on the speedometer.

Tan Jin Thong, president, The National Safety Council of Singapore, said: “Driving on the road is already very dangerous, it is a skill that has to be acquired and learnt.

“These youngsters, the underaged especially, they think that driving on the road is so easy… just moving the steering wheel, controlling the car to go straight, left or right, and stepping on the accelerator and knowing how to apply the brake…

“But in fact, that is not true. There is a lot more to learn on road safety and safe driving. If you do not go through a proper course in driving and you do not have a valid licence, I don’t see how they will be able to react in an emergency.

“And they not only pose a danger to themselves, but in fact also pose a hazard to other motorists, pedestrians; and (if) they are carrying passengers who could be their friends, they are also endangering their lives.”

Police figures showed that the number of people caught driving cars without a valid licence shot up 30 per cent to 25 in 2007. There were five such offenders in the first half of this year.

One area that may be lacking is public education. One hears a lot about anti-drink driving messages targeted at youths, but hardly anything on underage driving.

Police have also said that currently they do not have any programmes with schools to address this.

Singapore’s Automobile Association said it plans to widen its road safety education outreach to youths in tertiary institutions in the coming months.

Its CEO, Lee Wai Mun, said: “It is important for young drivers to understand that driving without a licence, as well as reckless driving and drink driving, are very serious offences, as such irresponsible acts could endanger not just their own lives, but also put other road users at risk.

“At the same time, driving is also a skill that one becomes more adept with through experience and practice.”

Mr Tan said: “I think it is a good idea that it can start from the schools, especially the upper secondary, because those students are around 15, 16 years old and they observe the adults driving, and they think that they want to have a try, and one day sneak into their parents’ car, their brother’s car, and then just get a few of their friends to be around, and once they come across an emergency, they’ve had it…”

Anyone caught driving without a licence could be fined up to S$2,000 and jailed up to six months.

A first-time offender will face a maximum fine of S$1,000 or a jail term not exceeding three months. A repeat offender faces a maximum fine of S$2,000 or a maximum jail term of six months. – CNA/ms


Traffic Conditions Improve in First Week of new ERP Criteria

Channel NewsAsia

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said there has been an overall improvement in the travel speeds and traffic conditions in the city centre since the implementation of new Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) criteria and the addition of five new gantries along the Singapore River Line.

In a statement on Monday, LTA said the five new gantries have been effective in cutting down through traffic between 6pm and 8pm. Traffic volume has dropped by up to 40 per cent and speeds improved to about 25 kilometres per hour (kph), which is within the optimal speed range of 20 kph to 30 kph.

LTA said the volume of traffic entering the new Bugis-Marina cordon dropped by up to 27 per cent and speeds improved to about 23 kph, from below 20 kph before the cordon’s implementation.


LTA’s Chief Executive Yam Ah Mee said: “The overall improvement in traffic speeds and traffic conditions during the first week (of) implementation of the July ERP changes in the CBD (Central Business District) and the first Saturday implementation of the new Bugis-Marina Cordon is most encouraging.

“This is similar to our experience in implementing ERP in the Orchard area where we have seen the effectiveness of the ERP scheme in managing congestion. This, in turn, will help to improve the attractiveness of this location as a destination for shoppers and visitors alike.”

Mr Yam added that given Singapore’s status as a premier business, commercial and tourist hub in the region, it is imperative for the country to keep its roads smooth-flowing and free from gridlock. – CNA /ls


New e-payment system and IU units for road users

Susan Ferroa
Channel NewsAsia

The first steps to transform Singapore’s land transport system over the next 10 to 15 years will be taken from next month.

Transport Minister Raymond Lim announced on Monday that a second generation In-vehicle Unit (IU) will be introduced from August, starting with motorcycles, before being rolled out in early 2009 for cars and other vehicles.

The new IU will allow motorists to use not just the current NETS CashCards but also Contactless E-Purse Application Standard (CEPAS) smart cards when they are released.

Mr Lim said that with the new IU, motorists will have more choices in the payment of ERP charges.

As for public transport users, they should also find it easier to make payments with a new e-payment system to be launched later this year.

Mr Lim said at the opening of the 9th Intelligent Transport System Asia-Pacific Forum and Exhibition that the Land Transport Authority has developed a new ticketing system that complies with CEPAS.

The Symphony for e-Payment (SeP) will offer commuters more choices as multiple card issuers can come on board to issue cards for the payment of public transport fares.

And because SeP is also compatible with second generation IUs, users may only use one common card for e-payments made for transport.

It was also announced that to help motorists better plan their trips, Singapore will be expanding the coverage of the EMAS camera system to cover major arterial roads. The first phase is to be in place by 2010.

In the meantime, the LTA is working with local company Quantum Inventions in the development of a dynamic route navigation system.

Drawing real-time information from LTA’s traffic monitoring centre, the system will plot the best driving route, taking into account accidents, road works and traffic slowdowns.

It is believed that the system, now available over the web and mobile phone devices, could also be integrated into other in-vehicle systems such as GPS and map navigators at a later stage.
– CNA/sf