More patrol officers and cameras to make roads safer

MORE Traffic Police officers will be deployed to patrol roads, and more red light and speed cameras will be installed as the Government moves to improve road safety amid a worsening trend of road users flouting rules.

The move to step up enforcement is part of the new Safer Roads Singapore strategy unveiled by Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran yesterday during the Budget debate. The strategy also includes educating road users and engaging specific groups of them.

While fewer people were killed on the roads last year compared with the year before, more people committed traffic violations.

Yesterday, five MPs asked what was being done to make roads here safer, with some noting that motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike had become increasingly reckless.

By the end of this year, 70 more officers will hit the roads, boosting the number of Traffic Police officers on patrol to 210. Their efforts will be supplemented by auxiliary police officers, and more red light and speed cameras.

Currently, some 240 cameras are installed at traffic junctions islandwide. These will be replaced in the next two years by 300 new digital cameras, which will allow police officers to download images of errant road users remotely.

There will also be harsher penalties in school zones with motorists getting an extra demerit point for violations in these areas. There were more serious accidents in school zones last year involving students - four injured and two killed - compared with three injuries the year before.

In January, brothers Nigel and Donavan Yap, aged 13 and seven, were killed when a cement-mixer truck hit their bicycle at a traffic junction near Dunman Secondary School.

Addressing concerns about heavy vehicles speeding, Mr Iswaran said the Traffic Police will work with the Land Transport Authority to tighten inspection on heavy vehicles that have been caught going above speed limits.

More emphasis will also be placed on road safety education for children and the elderly. Motorcyclists will need to take an expressway familiarisation course before they can get their licence.

The optional course is being made compulsory as Class 2B riders who have gone through it in the last two years were involved in fewer accidents. Out of 3,851 motorcycle accidents last year, one-quarter happened on expressways.

A new voluntary Safe Driving Course will also be made available for motorists who have racked up 12 or more demerit points. Drivers who get 24 points are barred from driving for a year. Those who go through the course will get three points erased from their record.

The Traffic Police will also work with groups like owners of heavy vehicle fleets and motorcycling enthusiast clubs to promote a culture of safe driving.

Mr Iswaran said the principal objective was to encourage motorists to adhere to rules even when they are not being watched. "Ultimately, all road users must take personal responsibility for this, as it is in our collective interest to ensure our own safety and the safety of all other road users."