Car camera could lower motor premiums

Incentive among measures Traffic Police studying to cut accident rates

Motorists who install video-recording devices in their vehicles could get discounts on their motor insurance premiums.

This possible incentive is being studied by a working group formed by the Traffic Police and the General Insurance Association (GIA).

Both see the move as a way to encourage better behaviour on the road, Traffic Police Commander Cheang Keng Keong told The Straits Times this week.

Improving driver behaviour, he said, was key to lowering accident rates.

Another measure the Traffic Police is considering is shortening the demerit-free period for motorists to get insurance rebates.

Currently, motorists with an accident-free record over three years are given a 5 per cent insurance rebate.

Under consideration is a possible duration of one year, and a rebate of as high as 15 per cent.

The in-vehicle camera scheme under study is part of a move to find "a long-term strategy rather than ad-hoc solutions to change driver behaviour", GIA president Derek Teo told The Straits Times.

Another area of concern to insurers, he said, is the spate of serious accidents involving heavy vehicles. In the first three months of this year, 21 heavy vehicles and buses were involved in fatal accidents - up from 15 in the same time last year.

He said it may be a good idea to install "black boxes" - intelligent recording devices similar to those found in aeroplanes - in these vehicles.

These devices record a vehicle's speed, braking and cornering forces, among other things.

To entice owners of heavy vehicles to install "black boxes", Mr Teo said insurers may be persuaded to pick up part of the tab.

Assistant Commissioner Cheang, however, stressed that the Traffic Police are mindful of the cost of any such initiative on the transport and logistics industry, and would prefer "economical solutions".

Advanced "black boxes" cost around $6,000 each. A fleet operator with 100 vehicles would end up paying $600,000 for them.

He also said that electronic speed limiters for heavy vehicles should preferably be "dynamic", as some vehicles, like tour buses, travel outside Singapore, "where speed limits are different".

Meanwhile, the Traffic Police will be enacting tougher rules for heavy vehicles caught speeding.

These vehicles will soon be required to undergo inspections more often.

This was to make fleet owners more acutely aware of the monetary cost of unsafe driving behaviour, said AC Cheang. "Each time you send a vehicle for inspection, there is downtime, which costs money."

The Traffic Police have also beefed up enforcement.

In the first three months, they have issued 83,735 summonses for traffic violations - up from 68,176 in the same time last year.

The bulk - 64,628 - was for speeding, up from 46,654 last year.

By December, the Traffic Police will add 70 more officers on patrol, bringing the number to 210.

And by the end of next year, they will have 300 digital cameras to nab speedsters and those who run red lights.

The new cameras allow images to be downloaded from a central location, reducing the time and effort needed for the on-site downloads with older cameras.