If the smoothness of traffic flow indicates the general orderliness with which a country runs its affairs, Singaporeans have long benefited from the absence of giant traffic snarls that plague daily life in megalopolises, particularly in the developing world. However, it is another matter when it comes to observing traffic laws. The human failure to do so has caused many accidents. In the 1980s, between 200 and 350 people died on the roads every year. Now, the number of deaths is set to hit a record low. Estimates show that there were 97 deaths caused by road accidents from January to October, a 17 per cent drop from the same period last year, when there were 117 fatalities.
This upturn in road safety is the combined result of official campaigns against speeding, dialogues with road users, and the widespread use of traffic cameras. The cameras are a technological reminder that the authorities take a dim view of liberties taken with speed. The campaigns and dialogues seek to inculcate a sense of personal responsibility for road behaviour. After all, people do not wish to kill or maim others as they go about their daily lives. There is every reason why that respect for life and limb should continue behind the wheel as well. Cars buffer their occupants from the physical sensation of speed, particularly on good roads. All the more, then, drivers should be aware of their capacity to inflict unintended harm on other road users, and on themselves and their families, through accidents that are avoidable in most instances. The high fatality rates of yesteryear must not return.
Drink driving is a special danger. There simply is no apology for it. The families of drivers play a special role, especially during festive seasons, in making them choose between drinking and driving. Errant drivers must know that they are flouting the law and going against the solid weight of public opinion.