5 road courtesy rules driving schools may not teach you
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the past few weeks in Singapore, the roads here have just been plagued with accidents. Before driving to work in the morning, I like to open up google maps or waze just to see traffic conditions and MAN OH MAN , the roads are not looking good. Accidents are so commonplace that I get surprised when I check the maps one morning to find that traffic is smooth with no reported accidents.
But that got me wondering, why are there suddenly so many road traffic accidents happening? Or has the number/frequency of accidents always been the same - but I’ve just been oblivious to it?
Even on Facebook groups like roads.sg, I see accident videos from another car’s dash cam being uploaded almost on a daily basis.
Maybe it’s the influx of new drivers, or maybe there are many older drivers on the roads, like this 72 year old cabby who ploughed through pedestrians at a junction in Alexandra.
Or could it just be that Singaporeans on a whole aren’t very good drivers? My hypothesis is that drivers cultivate bad habits after getting their license, and these bad habits may contribute to these accidents. After all, if you ask any Singaporean, most would agree that our drivers here can be abit more courteous and gracious to other road users.
Or could it be that driving schools here (who do their best to instil good driving habits) are simply not able to cover every single situation a driver may encounter on the road. Even if they did, student drivers may not be able to absorb or remember all of them after they pass their test.
For reference, I took my driving test about 10 years ago, so driving schools may have updated their syllabus now and teach these things, but during my time I don’t recall learning things like :
1. Using your signals
Okay, this is a lie 🤥 Driving school definitely taught me how to use my turn signals. In fact, this is probably one of the FIRST things they teach new drivers. But as you are already aware, some Singaporean drivers don’t use them and only god knows why. Maybe it’s because their cars explode when they use their signals?
2. Using your hazard lights before stopping
I’m sure in driving school, your instructor would have told you to use your hazard lights when stopping by the roadside. On the roads as a qualified driver, you are expected to do the same for your safety and the safety of other road users.
For example, you are driving in a parking lot looking for a spot, with a car behind you also looking for one. You drive and drive and suddenly you spot an empty lot in which you’d like to park. What I notice is that a lot of drivers tend to stop abruptly, with no indication whatsoever that they are about to stop.
This is dangerous for both you and the driver behind you as they may not have enough reaction time to stop. The courteous or gracious way to park once you found a lot would be to use your hazard lights to indicate to other drivers/pedestrians that you are about to stop. This would give them an indication of your intentions and they can then adapt accordingly.
3. Using roundabouts
In Singapore, there are roundabouts, but we don’t use them often as they are not very common. We still rely on the traditional cross junctions. And the uncommonness (I don’t even know if thats a proper word) of roundabouts we experience on a daily basis leads to confusion for a lot of drivers. I remember very clearly that in the few months of driving lessons I took as a fresh faced 18 year old, I did not once use a roundabout and when I first encountered it, I was pretty unsure of which lane I was supposed to follow. Lucky me, there weren’t many cars around that time.
After that incident, i took the time to learn the proper way of navigating a roundabout, which I feel all Singaporean drivers should be aware of as well, yknow - for safety :
4. Keep left unless overtaking
You've probably seen this sign a lot, but do not pay much attention to it. But I believe that behind this sign is one of the biggest frustrations of driving in Singapore.
And it also happens to be one of my BIGGEST pet peeves - Drivers who drive slowly on the right lane, who are also known as road hoggers.
You may be asking - how slow is slow? And how do I know if I am road hogging?
Excellent question. An excerpt from a govt website states that :
The right lane on an expressway is for overtaking. Don’t be that driver who roadhogs on the first lane of an expressway. This is frustrating for other road-users stuck behind. If you are not in a hurry, be considerate and give way to faster vehicles by moving to lanes on the left. By the way, in case you don’t know, road-hogging is actually an offence.
e.g If you are driving at 70km/h on the rightmost lane of the expressway, then you are road hogging. So MOVE OVER ! 😡
5. Giving way to other road users
Last but not least - giving way to other road users, be it drivers or pedestrians. I asked a few of my friends and colleagues on what their thoughts and experiences were on Singaporean drivers giving way to others. Surprise, surprise - turns out everyone I asked had the same sentiments, we Singaporeans simply do not give way to others.
One of the reasons we hypothesised was the ‘kiasu’ culture we have here, or the need to always be first. Secondly, we hypothesised that Singaporeans have this mindset of ‘if I give way to this guy, he will drive damn slowly and waste my time, so I better speed up so he can’t cut into my lane’ .
Shamefully, I have to admit that I sort of agree with the 2nd statement. Some drivers simply drive too slow for my liking, and about half the time, I tend to regret giving way to them (road hogging epidemic).
In fact, under the Civil Defence Act, it is an offence to obstruct a person carrying out emergency duties.
Despite this, I still see some drivers casually driving along the rightmost lane of the expressway while an ambulance with all possible sirens lit up is rushing behind them.
Of course, I did see some improvement over the past 10 years (probably due to some drivers who are scared of getting STOMPED) , but the fact remains that there are some drivers today who simply do not give way to emergency vehicles. My humble guess is the lack of enforcement action taken against these offenders that is causing this.
I don’t really understand how some of these drivers can be so selfish, especially since there could be a person fighting for their life in the back of that ambulance. Remember, your courtesy could save a life.