Friday, 10 April 2015

[Today] Safer roads start with safety-first mindset

Motorist behaviour is conditioned by the social and physical environments (“Safer roads ‘more about improving behaviour than enforcement’”; April 8).

Our competitive environment promotes behaviour that chases even short-term benefits without regard for others; for example, switching lanes abruptly at or upon approaching a traffic light, just to be a car length ahead.

Many of us have lost a sense of balance and are unconsciously trading safety for tiny benefits. Safety must come first; being competitive at the expense of safety would lead to a sorrowful end in the long run.

We must inculcate safety holistically in schools, offices, factories and homes, so that we instinctively embrace safety in any activity we undertake, including driving.

On the physical side, our road quality is at the forefront in the region, but our roads are designed more with speed in mind than safe traffic flow.

Loading and unloading of goods is not provided for adequately, and the periodic enforcement against doing it illegally along the road is ineffective.

Warning lights signalling the onset of amber traffic lights ahead are not used enough to give motorists more time to slow down and stop safely.

Also, many signs are partially blocked by trees or bushes and are not placed sufficiently in advance for motorists to take timely action.

All these can be avoided if we take account of potential safety issues posed by the design and construction of our road network.

Currently as well, a host of unsafe and traffic-slowing practices are ignored by enforcement officers because more focus is placed on specific offences such as speeding or drunk driving.

Objects that fly off vans and lorries are a hazard to other road users, but those vehicles are not stopped.

Neither are vehicles with damaged signal lights, nor motorists who ignore the need to signal their intention to turn.

These create unsafe conditions that can lead to accidents. If these conditions are corrected as soon as they appear, there would be fewer accidents. Enforcement should be broad-based, encompassing any safety or traffic issues officers may see on the road.

Making our roads safer is possible if we adopt a safety-first mindset when we design and build roads and buildings, write and enforce traffic rules, and especially when we are behind the steering wheel.