By Verena Lim
There have been rising concerns about road safety, especially after high- profile incidents such as the Bugis Ferrari crash in May, but the total number of road casualties has fallen.
In the first five months of the year, the number of fatalities fell to 75, from 84 in the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the Singapore Department of Statistics. Figures for May are preliminary.
The number of people injured over the same period this year fell by about 14 per cent to 3,562, from 4,159 the year before.
This follows the 8 per cent fall in the total number of road casualties for the whole of last year from 2010, according to the Traffic Police. Last year, there were 193 fatalities and 11,065 people injured.
A Traffic Police spokesman told my paper yesterday that more than 780 road-safety talks, exhibitions and outreach sessions were held last year.
He said: "The Traffic Police will continue to work closely with strategic partners and the community to reinforce the importance of road safety through a myriad of outreach programmes."
Mr Ang Hin Kee, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Transport, attributed the fall in casualties this year to increased road-safety enforcement by the Traffic Police.
"The Traffic Police have investigated and identified the clear problem areas and increased enforcement there."
He added that they have put up more road blocks and are doing more checks around nightspots. Some traffic-light timings have also been changed so motorists "can receive clearer instruction", added Mr Ang.
But for cyclists, data from the Department of Statistics showed a rise in fatalities. There were 11 deaths from January to May, up from seven in the same period last year.
Undergraduate Christian Tan, 24, who usually cycles with a group at 6.30am on weekends, said that many accidents involving cyclists occur because of impatient motorists.
"Drivers have to be accommodating and accept that cyclists are allowed on the roads.
Accidents usually happen when a car overtakes too close by, thus hitting cyclists," he said.
But Mr Tan added that cyclists should not think that they "own" the road and expect motorists to give way to them.
"It's common sense for cyclists who are also drivers, so we brief the new cyclists in the group who are not," he said.
As many cyclists cycle in the early-morning hours when it's still dark, Mr Ang said it is important for cyclists to make themselves visible by wearing reflective vests and helmets.
Mr Cedric Foo, chairman of the GPC for Transport, said that ensuring the safety of users of smaller vehicles is still a work in progress.
"We haven't quite adapted to the social norms of accommodating and giving the right of way to smaller vehicles. We will have to keep working on that," Mr Foo said.
Mr Ang believes the number of casualties among cyclists can be lowered.
He said: "For many years, we have been trying to decrease the number of accidents involving motor- cyclists by using education means and advisories. If it worked for motorcyclists, it can work for cyclists too."
Another concern is that the number of people hurt in incidents involving goods vehicles, vans and buses has increased by about 10 per cent, with 423 from January to May this year, from 386 in the same period last year.
Mr Gan Thiam Poh, a member of the GPC for Transport, said the rise may be due to vehicles that ferry workers.
He said: "There is no perfect solution right now. There are laws to limit the number of workers to make sure that there is no overcrowding (on the vehicles), but it is up to the driver to drive safely."
For more my paper stories click here.