Sunday, July 01, 2007

ST asks if S'poreans are bad drivers. It's a valid question, after all the number of traffic fatalities is still high, incidents of road rage are on the increase, and we all could list a number of poor driving habits we encounter by our fellow drivers on our roads.

Generally, I encounter the impatient sort, the tailgater, the no-signal lane-changer, the idiot who speeds up to close the gap when I dutifully signal I want to change lanes. The morons who think my minimum safety distance is sufficient space to cut into my lane. Each incident raises driver alertness, but it also causes an emotional response as well -- anger, which often triggers a desire for vengeance or at least competition. All very dangerous impediments to safe driving.

There'd be a lot more of us still alive if we were a little more patient with each other, a little less in a hurry ourselves. Good luck with that in modern, busy S'pore, you say. Perhaps the problem isn't that the roads aren't safe enough, but rather, that our roads are too safe. According to the theory of 'risk compensation', animals and people tend to take greater risks the safer they feel in their environments.

Perhaps we need to remove our numerous traffic lights, our speed limits and warning signs. Get rid of our lane markings and do whatever else we can to raise the threat level on the road. Then perhaps our drivers will start taking more personal responsibility over the way they drive. Roads don't have to be safe. Drivers do.

Think I got this idea because I'm crazy? It's an idea that seems to work. Check out this article by Anne Casselman in Discover mag. Click.

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