Traffic police receiving more alerts from public about errant behaviour on the roads

Traffic police receiving more alerts from public about errant behaviour on the roads
Most of the public information came through the Singapore Police Force's online feedback portal. Some of the alerts included videos or photos.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - More people are reporting bad behaviour on the roads to the Traffic Police, with the number of summonses related to public feedback having increased 1.5 times in five years.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, TP revealed that it issued 2,500 summonses last year as a result of public feedback.

In 2014, there were 1,700 such summonses.

The total number of summonses issued by TP rose from 152,700 in 2015 to 181,000 last year.

In all, TP received a total of 18,500 feedback letters in 2018 from the public on irresponsible driving - more than double the number five years ago (2014), at 6,900.

A spokesman for TP said most of the public information came through the Singapore Police Force's online feedback portal, which was launched in 2014.

Some of the alerts included videos or photos.

Common behaviours highlighted were speeding, running a red-light signal and dangerous or reckless driving, he added.

"TP welcomes public feedback on traffic offences, which contribute towards making our roads safer for all users," said the spokesman.

In recent years, several road safety interest groups have sprung up on social media.

They use videos captured by vehicle dashboard cameras to call out irresponsible motorists, pedestrians and other road users.

One such group is Roads.sg, which has a Facebook following of nearly 220,000.

Its founder Aloysius Fong, 62, said the site receives up to 10 videos of unsafe driving behaviours daily, with about half of them related to motorists beating a red-light signal.

Other communities include Beh Chia Lor at 131,000 followers, Singapore Reckless Drivers with more than 130,000 followers, and SG Road Vigilante with about 41,000 followers.

If the video contains irresponsible driving behaviours, Mr Fong would usually forward them to TP via the online portal on behalf of the contributors.

While more people are using dashcam videos to call out bad behaviour on the roads, this may not necessarily mean the problem is getting worse, said transport analyst Gopinath Menon.

"This was probably already happening before, but they were never captured on videos.

"It's possible that today we are more aware because of social media," said the senior research fellow at Nanyang Technological University.

"If people are aware that they are being watched, the hope is that they will be more careful," he added.

To curb irresponsible driving, the authorities may soon raise penalties for dangerous and careless driving, as well as road traffic offences such as illegal U-turns.

For example, those convicted of dangerous driving could face a maximum of eight years in jail for the first offence, up from the current five years.

To nip unsafe driving behaviour in the bud, composition fines for road traffic offences will also be raised.

For running a red-light signal, fines will double from the current $200 to $230, to between $400 and $500.

While motorists and experts said they welcome more serious consequences for drivers who cause injury or death in traffic accidents, some are doubtful that increasing fines alone for other road traffic offences would result in safer roads.

Driving instructor Gordon Thia, 63, who has been in the industry for more than 40 years, said that besides increasing composition fines, the number of demerit points issued for traffic offences should also be raised.

Beyond penalties, Mr Menon said there are other ways to improve road safety.

"Enforcement is one way, but it is not possible to do 100 per cent enforcement.

"Education and road infrastructure must all work together," he added.

General speed limits could be lowered to 40kmh from the current 50kmh, he suggested as one example.

Some motorists said the authorities should also take advantage of the deluge of videos of irresponsible motorists posted on social media to educate the public.

Said Roads.sg's Mr Fong, who is a businessman: "I'm just doing this as an activist, but it would be good if TP can be more active on social media to state their stand on what happens in these videos, especially those that go viral."

This article was first published inĀ The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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