Would imposing tougher punishments on errant drivers really reduce speeding and related accidents?
According to a news report by Today Online, Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran said that harsher penalties for errant drivers and more speed cameras and Traffic Police officers on the roads are among the measures the authorities are mulling over to improve road safety.
Mr Iswaran's comments come after the tragic accident in Tampines on Monday involving a cement truck left two boys dead, sparking renewed calls from the public and as well as relevant bodies like the Singapore Cycling Federation to improve safety on the roads.
While it may be, at least in the short term, feasible to improve stiffer penalties to deter errant drivers from speeding and resulting in accidents, the bigger question is the treatment of cyclists on the roads, as well as the type of punishments irresponsible drivers will get for causing the deaths of cyclists. Many cyclists are very unhappy that these drivers ‘get away' with fines or even just a few months of jail for their crime.
Part of the problem also lies in drivers' perceptions of cyclists as ‘nuisances' on the roads and having very little or no regard for them when driving behind or alongside them. I'm not saying all drivers are like that but definitely much more can be done to accommodate and make cyclists feel inclusive on the roads. Cyclists, too, have to abide by traffic rules and not as if they own the roads but it is shared with other users.
My take is, no matter how many millions we spend on cycling infrastructure or meting out harsher punishments for errant motorists, it is ultimately futile if the various stakeholders or those who share the road do not attempt to understand each other or respect each other.
Let's respect each other on the roads and spare a thought for one another. At the end of the day, whether you are cyclist or motorist, you want to make it home safely to your family, friends and loved ones.
Original article that this commentary is based on:
Photo: © Jean Guichard/Sygma/Corbis