The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is putting more cameras in all its wheeled vehicles to give them extra "eyes" to ensure servicemen drive safely and minimise road accidents.
It will spend the next two to three years installing them in its fleet of 6,900 active wheeled vehicles such as minibuses, Land Rovers and trucks. According to tender documents obtained by The Straits Times, the cameras can record at least 10 hours of footage.
Besides capturing the front view of the vehicle and the lanes on the sides of the vehicle at the front, the cameras also need to monitor the goings-on inside the vehicle cabin.
These will include footage of the driver, front passenger, steering wheel and gear stick to "facilitate the recording of safety practices, to support the training of SAF personnel".
A microphone with voice recording functions will also be installed.
The move comes more than three years since a trial was carried out to road test the safety features in a selected fleet of about 30 vehicles.
Army chief transport officer Tay Yong Meng, speaking to The Straits Times, said the trial concluded that the camera recordings could improve transport safety and driver operating habits.
Besides providing direct feedback to soldiers and their supervisors, the camera recordings will also help officers conduct debriefing sessions and accident investigations. They will also be converted into case studies for safety education.
Colonel Tay said: "We believe that consistent emphasis on good driving behaviour and cutting down on undesirable habits would bring about safer and more responsible transport operators."
The installation of cameras in vehicles is among several measures the SAF has taken to improve the safety of its drivers and servicemen in the wake of a spate of fatal accidents involving military vehicles and servicemen in 2012.
One involved an unlicensed driver taking the wheel of a jeep, which overturned and killed a serviceman who was not wearing a seat belt or helmet.
Other moves include setting up a safety branch and the Military Transport Safety Review Panel, which is made up of land transport and road safety experts.
In 2011, all SAF vehicles were fitted with alarms that sound when they are reversing.
Motorists have developed a greater awareness about the usefulness of in-vehicle cameras in the event of accidents.
Video recordings are increasingly being used by insurance companies to assess accident claims, and are also used as evidence when collected during Traffic Police investigations.
Taxi operators have also installed cameras in their cabs to protect their drivers. The biggest cab company, ComfortDelGro, spent about $6.4 million to put security cameras in all of its 16,600 vehicles in 2013.
Land transport expert Gopinath Menon said it is important for all organisations, including the military, to put safety among its top priorities.
"The majority of the military are national servicemen, who may not have as much experience on the road," he said. "It is good that additional measures are being taken to protect drivers and road users."
This article was first published on Nov 20, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.