Do you experience the same while driving?
I believe, after paying high prices to attain and maintain a car in Singapore, drivers have a tendency to hold higher expectations of Singapore and as a result, might take the roads we have here for granted. Compared to neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand which have horrible traffic conditions and poor road conditions, Singapore is much better off. However, every situation has its challenges and even I have to admit that driving in Singapore can be quite a pain at times.
I have to say, I am very appreciative of Singapore’s road network with its relatively smooth roads and the high levels of safety. Of late though, I’ve been experiencing a lot of frustrations driving in Singapore.
1. Too many cars on the road
Over the last decade, there has been a surge in vehicle ownership to the point that the growth of cars on the road exceeds the amount of road available. At the moment there are more than one million vehicles (including foreign registered ones) in Singapore!
With limited space to build new roads, an immediate solution is to cut back on the vehicle population, hence vehicle reduction methods like growth cuts, high COE prices and the recent revised loan curbs and tax increases have been implemented. These measures are said to help people exercise financial prudence and most likely will lead to less car purchases.
Meantime, although the vehicle population will grow at a much slower rate, the existing number of vehicles is still a lot to deal with.
2. Perpetual traffic congestions
As a result of the high vehicle population, I tend to run into traffic delays very often, even at odd hours like 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon in the heartlands. It makes me wonder why these people don’t have to be at work. I also try my best to avoid driving during peak hours if I can because the traffic jams during these periods are the worst.
3. Ongoing road upgrading
As part of the improving the roads in Singapore, there are road works in a lot of places. “Upgrading to serve you better” they say, but we have to put up with short-term inconveniences of having one lane short or bumpy roads. These road works lead to more traffic delays and build-ups too.
4. Acts of bad driving behaviour
No matter how refined the culture of a city is, there will always be displays of bad and unreasonable driving behaviour. Some of my pet peeves of driving in Singapore include – road hogging, pointing the middle finger when not getting their way, sudden overtaking without signaling, taking their time to switch lanes after signaling, sudden braking even though there are no cars in front, and more. All these gestures might be due to an ‘I own the road’ mindset that stems from the high costs of owning a car. There is also that bad habit of cars slowing down just to check out an accident or take down the numbers to buy the lottery with, causing a greater delay.
5. Additional road usage charges
Never mind that we have already forked out substantial costs to ‘lease’ a car (I say ‘lease’ because technically we don’t own the car but merely gain the rights to have it for 10 years), there are a lot of other costs involved in keeping our cars on the road.
When the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme started, it was mostly for peak hours at the city centre. Now there are ERP gantries aplenty which are in operation even during off-peak hours. Sometimes when I take a wrong turn, I end up paying ERP again. On top of ERP, parking is also another problem. I have problems finding parking sometimes and if that isn’t bad enough, the parking charges are getting increasingly costly.
6. Taxi drivers
I acknowledge that being a taxi driver is a tough job, especially if they have to face the frustrations on the road on a daily basis for prolonged periods of time. They are just out to make a living but sadly, have also been labelled as the worst drivers in Singapore with their sudden braking and lurching, and aggressive driving on the roads. I often encounter taxi drivers stopping suddenly or swerving dangerously just to pick a passenger up. On a couple of occasions, I’ve witnessed them alighting passengers at the traffic light junction with a green light!
I try my best not to get affected by these frustrations when I drive, reminding myself that I am very fortunate to be able to have a car in Singapore and also to be grateful for the infrastructure we have here compared to other cities. Alternatively, public transport is the other option but therein lies another set of frustrations.
*This was first published on STCars.sg.