Over the past three weeks, there have been at least five known cases of motorists driving against the flow of traffic.
They were all captured by dashboard cameras and uploaded onto Facebook or community motoring sites like roads.sg and Beh Chia Lor.
One of the incidents proved fatal on Dec 19 when a Mercedes-Benz barrelled down the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) in the wrong direction, killing a motorist and injuring three others. In a rare move, businessman Lim Chai Heng's charge was upgraded from dangerous driving causing the death of a motorist, to culpable homicide.
Driving against the flow of traffic, it appears, has become more common. Both the police and motoring experts were unable to give statistics, but it is clear that such infractions have become more prominent due to the rise in use of in-car or action cameras.
Mr Ong Kim Hua, president of the Singapore Motorcycle Safety and Sports Club, said: "The cameras are cheap and are a source of 'insurance' when disputing accident cases. With better technology, you can expect more eyes on the road."
Mr Ong, 50, also noted that Singaporean motorists are more open to sharing their footage with online groups or motoring interest groups.
He added: "While driving against traffic flow is rare on expressways, I commonly see drivers taking short cuts in HDB estates or on smaller, two-way traffic roads.
"They're plain lazy."
Mr Aman Aljunied from Singapore Safety Driving Centre concurred, saying there is no reason for anybody to drive against traffic because road lanes and signs here are clearly marked.
"Still, the driver could be doing it intentionally or perhaps he's a foreign driver who's lost."
Whatever the reasons behind such bad driving behaviour, a head-on collision would almost certainly result in fatal injuries, said Mr Aman.
At least one driver had a close shave yesterday when he saw oncoming headlights on the right-most lane on the AYE. He immediately swerved to the left lane to avoid a collision - which Mr Aman said was the right thing to do.
The footage was shared on roads.sg. The incident occurred at about 1.20am in the direction of Tuas, just before the Clementi Avenue 2 exit.
Two motorists, who had seen footage of the recent incidents, said they have become more cautious on the roads as a result.
Mr Zen Koh, 28, who works as a used car dealer, said: "I cannot figure out why anyone would drive that way. You are endangering others' lives on the road."
Others, such as Uber driver Daniel Tan, think stiffer penalties are the way to go in preventing such actions. "It comes down to bad behaviour, and is akin to having a death wish," said the 35-year-old.
He added that such actions could "stem from a bigger issue" - people being inconsiderate on the road. This is why some end up with an "extreme disregard for the rules".
Still, would most motorists be able to react in time when caught in a similar situation?
Both motoring experts agreed that if an oncoming vehicle is spotted early, chances of avoiding it would be higher. But things could go wrong especially "if the encounter is too sudden or if it occurs near a blind bend", said Mr Ong. "Then, the results will be deadly."
The police told ST that reports had been lodged and investigations were ongoing in two of the cases cited recently.
Original videos of traffic violations recorded using in-vehicle cameras can be submitted as evidence in police investigations.
A police spokesman said: "The viral nature of social media means that netizens are able to further disseminate the information shared by the police, thereby providing a multiplier effect to our efforts."
Stay safe, adopt defensive driving
The way to stay safe on the roads is to adopt a defensive driving style and try to anticipate what could go wrong, said Mr Aman Aljunied from the Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC). He said: "That's why we teach our students to scan both near and far, and see what is ahead of them on the road. This gives them time to make quick decisions."
What to do when a car is coming towards you against the flow of traffic?
Mr Aman suggests:
1. Flashing the headlights to get the other driver's attention.
2. Slowing down and moving your vehicle to the left-most lane.
3. Taking evasive action to avoid a head-on collision.
What should drivers who find themselves driving against the flow of traffic do?
1. Stop the vehicle immediately and alert other motorists by flashing the car's headlights.
2. When it is safe - and after other motorists have passed - quickly start driving with the traffic flow.
Additional reporting by Seow Bei Yi
This article was first published on Jan 6, 2017.
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