Appeal to Singapore Traffic Police

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In the last one month, there has been a flood of letters to the media on driving in Singapore. There is also a visible increase in Traffic Police (TP) presence on our roads.

But while we support and laud TPs efforts at making Singapore roads safe, we are disturbed by accounts of such instances:
Law-abiding motorists with decades of clean driving record getting fined for minor speeding infractions.
TP with mobile speed cameras hiding at spots to catch speeding motorists. A team of police officers was recently spotted inside the compound of a Chinese temple with speed cameras pointed towards the traffic!
Drivers getting pulled over for catch-all offences such as careless driving

According to the Road Accident Situation Report 2003 published on 4 March 2004, TP acknowledged that the traffic situation in Singapore for 2003 remained good and our fatality rate per human population was lower than many OECD countries. The 2004 figures have not been published. But nonetheless we are puzzled by the sudden step-up in enforcement action.

A deeper analysis of the 2003 report raises many questions:

In the report, TP identified the three serious traffic offences are drink-driving, speeding and red-running. This being so, TPs enforcement actions should be proportionate and not overly focused on speeding alone, especially when TP acknowledged that the number of speed-related fatal and injury accidents in 2003 actually decreased.

Motorcyclists and pillion riders remained the most vulnerable group of road users. They comprised about half of all the total road accident fatalities and TPs enforcement should accordingly be aimed towards this group of road users. TP reported that in the single-party fatal accident cases involving motorcyclists, the common causes include failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to have proper control of their vehicles, failing to give way to traffic with right of way, and disobeying traffic light signals. Since TP is aware of the causes, its enforcement action should be targeted and focused.

Pedestrians were the 2nd most vulnerable group of road users and they accounted for 30\% of fatalities. As such, TP should similarly focus its efforts on pedestrian safety and education.

In short, while we applaud TPs efforts against errant motorists who speed recklessly, the cat-and-mouse tactic employed to catch unsuspecting and generally law abiding motorists will slowly alter their driving behaviour in addition to catching speedsters. These motorists will eventual move their focus of attention off the roads to flyovers and overbridges for fear of committing the most minor of speed infractions.

We should not allow such driving behaviour to emerge as the main focus of the driver should be on the roads and on the cars ahead of him. Instead of elevating the overall safety of the roads, the safety of pedestrians and other motorists maybe compromised.

We believe that the Traffic Police should not lose focus in their pursuit of errant motorists who speed recklessly by the heavy-handed approach of summoning motorists even for the most minor of speed infractions.