There are more high performance cars on the roads today compared to 10 years ago. I believe this is due to our society getting more affluent and people are starting to have finer appreciation for cars. Also, the recent hike in COE prices probably spurred people to choose a more luxurious or more premium car to make the price more justifiable. For example, if you are going to pay so much for COE, might as well get a more expensive car (think about the COE as a percentage to the car price).
As for our roads being suitable for supercars, I think it’s a yes and no. Our roads are perfect – great infrastructure with smooth and safe roads. However, having a supercar or high performance car does not necessarily mean you need to drive it fast. Some people buy such cars for the prestige, the status or simply just being in the car and if they want to drive at high speeds, they take it out of the country to a track or someplace legal in a controlled environment.
I have friends who own such cars and they do understand that there is a form of commitment to how they handle their cars. After all, in Singapore especially, people pay such high prices for their cars. They wouldn’t want to risk damaging their cars. The car is just a tool and I think the focus should be to teach them how to use the tool rather than implement restrictions on getting the car. It will be difficult to do so and not practical. It should be a form of driver or public education on how to handle the car and teach them what they are dealing with, rather than making them pay more to get the car.
2) Defensive driving necessary for supercar drivers?
There has been a call for owners of high performance cars to go through defensive driving courses. No doubt it will be good to go for such courses so that you know how to handle and recover from situations, but it is one thing to go for the course, and another thing if the knowledge gained after the course is not applied thereafter.
There is a misconception about defensive driving – some people think that they are not going for a race and just driving their kids to school, so there isn’t a need for defensive driving courses. However, it is more of personal safety and learning how to handle abrupt situations that surface on the roads, such as how to avoid sudden obstacles like a dog suddenly dashing out onto the road.
In particular for high performance car owners, there are some carmakers who do have driving courses but it is not part of the sales package. What could be done is probably to place more emphasis on the courses and include them as part of the sales package. It is a pity that Singapore has no race track as having a circuit would make it a lot easier and more convenient to hold these driving courses.
There is some truth that drivers of supercars might be more prone to speeding – I agree that it is definitely tempting, knowing the car can do so much more but being restricted by law and speed limits. It’s just about how you control and resist the temptation to avoid unfortunate circumstances should things go wrong.
Illegal street racing is something that will happen anywhere, be it in the city or the countryside. For Singapore, it goes back to the point about not having an outlet to release this need for speed. We don’t have a circuit or a track and hence there is nowhere legal for the speed demons to be unleashed. Some take the trouble of making the journey across the border to Malaysia to satisfy the crave for speed, but most find it a hassle. Should there be a circuit, it might not entirely do away with, but might lead to a reduction in the occurence of illegal street racing. In addition, having the circuit provides a facility for driving courses to be held to teach one how to handle their cars.
On the issue about making speeding penalties harsher, I feel that the cause should be treated, rather than simply increasing the punishment and continually making the penalties harsher. Why are these people speeding in the first place? Could it be that the existing penalties are already too harsh? People have a tendency to find their way around things and there will be no end to making the penalties harsher and harsher.
4) Tougher rules for foreigners to get driving licence?
At the moment, foreigners just need to take a final theory test to convert their foreign licence to our local licence. I feel that a practical segment can be implemented in addition to the theory test. For example, they can go on a familiarisation route to get accustomed to our roads and the various regulations.
Having driven in different countries across the globe, I find that the driving culture in Singapore is unique, probably due to our unique car ownership scheme. The high cost of cars in Singapore lead to a higher sense of ownership and as a result, drivers here tend to be more careful, or may I dare say, more selfish about their manners on the roads.
While it seems like it might be a good idea to implement stricter rules on foreign driving licence conversion, the practicality of doing so might be a problem.
Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist.
Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing.
A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)
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