We all make mistakes on the road. After all, to err is human, which is the same reason why over 90% of motor accidents around the world could actually be avoided – If we could only collectively follow speed limits, avoid the use of phones, and abide by other safe driving practices consistently, of course. To err is human, and to learn from our mistakes is divine, so, here’s a little refresher on how to keep safe on the road: Here’s 12 ways to avoid getting into a car accident in Singapore.
1. Develop a responsible attitude when driving
We all know that with great power comes great responsibility, and it seems that not many of us always remember how being behind the wheel means you’re directly responsible for more than 1,000kg of metal. You owe it to yourself, your pedestrians, and other road users to wield your metal four-wheeled beast appropriately. Copious automobile accidents happen as a result of bad attitude, not a lack of skills.
2. Always, always always wear your safety belt
We don’t care if you’re a driver or passenger, or if your journey is a really short one – As long as you’re seated in a moving car, you need to have your seatbelt on. Seatbelts are known to halve the risk of fatalities and injuries, and putting one on is dead simple, so what’s your excuse?
3. Do not drive inebriated
Inebriation or intoxication doesn’t just apply to alcohol – Drowsy medicines could cause you to be unable to drive with proper concentration, so even if you’ve only had one drink or one tiny pill for a headache or flu, make sure that your judgement and cognitive abilities are completely intact before you get into your vehicle. In the same way, make sure you’ve got enough shuteye before you plonk yourself behind the wheel. Research has shown that drivers who have had no more than four hours of sleep before driving are three times more likely to get in a car accident.
4. Do not drive distracted
The road is the worst place to be having a chat with your bff about last weekend’s gossip, unless you’re in the backseat. One of the most dangerous driving habits is to use your phone whilst at the wheel. Remember, mobile phones are only for directions or emergency communication. If you have to use your phone, please have it safely mounted and keep both hands on the wheel.
5. New to the road?
Limit your passengers. If you’re a new driver, it’s best to limit your number of passengers. Also ensure that you and all your passengers belt up, and remain calm whilst in your vehicle. Do not be a distracted driver no matter how interesting the backseat conversation is. Keep it slow and safe. It is best to avoid fast-moving, congested traffic till you’re a more experienced driver. If you’re new to the road, do yourself a favour by gradually introducing yourself to more difficult driving situations, and always drive at a safe speed no matter where you are. Needless to say, speeding heavily increases your chances of getting into a car accident. Limit your night-time driving. Likewise, try your best to avoid driving at night till you’re comfortable with day-time driving – Despite there being significantly less traffic on the road at night, more than 40 percent of all fatal car accidents occur when it’s dark. Drunk and sleep-deprived driving is also more likely to happen at night. Train for poor weather conditions. Even if you’re pretty confident driving on a sunny day, do your best to avoid wet weather if you’ll be driving unsupervised. Even the most seasoned drivers are at a higher risk of getting into a car accident in Singapore when our occasional thunderstorms hit, so don’t be too complacent, and only drive in poor weather if it is an absolute must.
6. Practice good road etiquette
Countless accidents happen at intersections and in between lanes. When entering an intersection, always look in both directions to ensure you’re in the clear. The same goes for changing lanes. Always check your mirrors, and signal in a timely fashion (definitely not right before you plan to change lanes). Lastly, please make sure to keep an eye out for motorists who might be zooming around in your blind spot. Don’t tailgate other motorists. We get it – You’re in a traffic jam, and every little ounce of movement makes you feel like you’re actually getting somewhere. But get too close to the vehicle in front, and you’re putting yourself at risk. Always make sure there is sufficient distance between you and the car in front. If you’re tailgating someone out of anger, read on: Remain cool in the presence of idiots. If a driver flips you off, honks inappropriately, or is hogging lanes, the worst thing you could do is to pour on extra trouble by retaliating aggressively. Take a chill pill, bro – Let dumb behavior roll off your shoulders, and if you find yourself being harassed, call the police instead of taking matters into your own hands.
7. Watch for red light runners
There are plenty of amazing drivers out there – such as yourself – seeing as you’ve bothered to read an article on road safety (well done!). However, there are also drivers who easily forsake the safety of others at the drop of a hat. This is why you should count to three before moving on a green light, and always look both ways in case another motorist tries to cheat past the red and cause irresponsible dread.
8. Watch out for blind spots
Exercise extra caution when passing large vehicles. Truck drivers, for example, have a large blind spot compared to smaller cars, so be especially careful when driving next to a big ’un. Pro tip: If you cannot see the vehicle’s side mirrors, the vehicle driver cannot see you.
9. Watch for kids and eldery pedestrians
Children are tiny, babbling things. This means that they are highly inconspicuous. Elderly pedestrians, on the other hand, are equally vulnerable. If you’re driving in a residential area with vulnerable road users present, always be watchful, and slow down.
10. Maintain your car regularly
Suddenly stalling your car due to a vehicle failure or a flat tyre could put you and your loved ones in a dangerous situation, especially if you’re on a busy road. Trust us – You don’t want to be traveling at 50km/h on worn out tyres, or with a faulty steering wheel. This is why regular maintenance truly saves lives. How often you’ll need to send your car for servicing largely depends on your car’s make and model, but as a rule of thumb, service your vehicle once every 6 months or 10,000 km, whichever comes first. You should also change your tyres every 3 months even if they still look good.
11. Scan 10-12 seconds ahead
Apart from human error, mishaps can also happen on the road due to unforeseen circumstances such as fallen trees, wet weather, and faulty infrastructure. This is why it’s important to always keep your eyes on the road and to scan 10-12 seconds ahead. If you find yourself on the PIE or other expressways in Singapore, keep a safe position so that if a motorist were to stop abruptly or swerve, you have a good chance of avoiding them.
12. Check your rear when backing out
Well, not your rear, which we’re sure is looking fine as can be. Accidents in HDB carparks often happen because cars which seem stationary suddenly move and leave parking spaces, and little kids, who aren’t very visible, can dash out from nowhere. When you’re leaving your parking space, don’t rely on your mirrors alone – Look over your right shoulder while backing out so that you’ll not miss blind spots that your mirrors don’t cover. That was a pretty comprehensive list, if we might say so ourselves. We’ve given you 12 ways to avoid getting into a car accident in Singapore, and hope that at least a few of these tips help spur you on about becoming a safer and more defensive driver. Got your own tips? Share them with us!