More heavy-vehicle firms can tap govt grants for safety aid

Speeding trucks and lorries on the AYE. PHOTO: ST FILE

More heavy-vehicle firms can soon tap government subsidies to buy an in-vehicle safety device that can warn drivers of impending collisions, helping them stay safe on the roads.

The Mobileye programme, piloted two years ago with 19 transport and logistics firms, will now be extended to more small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) in the industry, The Straits Times has learnt.

Israeli-designed Mobileye uses a smart "third-eye" camera - mounted at the front of the vehicle - that can identify and track other vehicles as well as pedestrians and cyclists on the road.

Drivers are given audio and visual warnings through a dashboard display unit when they drive too closely to a vehicle in front, or when a collision is imminent.

The pilot scheme for Mobileye was led by Spring Singapore in collaboration with the Singapore Transport Association, with over 360 vehicles installed with the device.

A spokesman for Spring Singapore said it has received positive feedback on Mobileye from firms, as it has "helped their drivers take preventive action to avoid accidents by providing real-time information". This raises productivity for the firms, as vehicles now need less downtime for accident repairs.

The Mobileye scheme will soon be offered by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) to "encourage mass adoption and a large-scale roll-out," said the Spring Singapore spokesman.

In Singapore, there are an estimated 47,000 heavy vehicles, which account for about 5 per cent of the vehicle population.

The IDA is looking to incorporate the Mobileye programme under its enhanced iSprint scheme - which encourages SMEs to use smart technology to boost productivity - and is finalising the details.

Under the scheme, firms can get up to 70 per cent in subsidies, capped at $20,000. Each Mobileye system is priced at about $2,000.

The expansion of grants for the purchase of the safety device for heavy vehicles comes amid a rise in accidents involving such vehicles.

While the number of fatal accidents involving heavy vehicles fell from 44 in 2014 to 34 last year, cases of non-fatal accidents and traffic violations rose from 795 to 843, according to Traffic Police figures.

Companies with heavy-vehicle fleets said Mobileye has helped them to boost safety and reduce insurance claims.

Bok Seng Logistics, for instance, managed to reduce its motor insurance claims by 60 per cent last year, compared with 2014. This translated to $60,000 in savings on its motor insurance premium renewal this year.

Kim Ee Logistics, which has a fleet of 40 - predominantly prime movers and lorries - managed to cut the number of accidents involving its heavy vehicles from 15 in 2014 to 11 last year.

While about half of the cases in 2014 were major accidents that led to downtime of up to three weeks, all the cases last year were minor ones, such as those that resulted in slight dents to vehicles.

Kim Ee Logistics finance manager Nancy Tan said the Mobileye system also generates a report on the driver's performance, through the logging of warnings given to the driver while he is on the road.

These alerts could be for driving too near to the vehicle in front, or switching lanes without signalling.

Mrs Tan said: "For those identified as high-risk drivers, we will sit them down and counsel them, and make them aware of their shortcomings."

Mr Rosni Selamat, 50, a prime- mover driver from Kim Ee Logistics, said: "On the road, other cars often cut into our lanes. Besides keeping a lookout myself, I have an extra alert with Mobileye."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline More heavy-vehicle firms can tap govt grants for safety aid. Subscribe