Our senior writer is okay with new cameras that measure average speeds, but only if they are also used to penalise road hogs in Singapore.
LIKE most drivers, I find the presence of speed cameras irksome.
No, it is not because I don’t want to get caught as I tear up the roads, zipping from one destination to the next with my tyres on fire.
Besides, with so many vehicles today equipped with in-car cameras, that sort of reckless behaviour is easily recorded and reported.
What I find annoying about speed cameras is that their presence immediately causes other motorists to drive well below the posted speed limit.
The cameras on the PIE stretch near the Eng Neo exit, for instance, cause motorists to drive at 60km/h, despite the signposted limit being 80km/h.
The same thing happens to me on the AYE. For some reason, I’ve always had the misfortune of being stuck behind cars that pass the speed camera there at 75km/h, despite the limit being 90km/h.
These encounters are ridiculous because they take place even when traffic is free-flowing and the weather is bright and sunny.
Now, in terms of law enforcement, the problem with the current speed cameras (visible or hidden) is that they only capture motorists at a particular spot.
The new speed cameras that the Traffic Police will deploy next year, on the other hand, will record average speeds. So, motorists who employ the “brake hard, speed up” routine can only avoid speeding summonses by following the limits.
While some of my colleagues were shaking their heads at this news, I was rubbing my hands in glee instead.
I know what you’re thinking: “Are you crazy? Why would any driver want more advanced speed cameras?! Now everyone will just drive super-slow!”
Well, these thoughts have crossed my mind. I’ve imagined everyone taking longer to get to work because our roads will be filled with dawdling motorists who are rightfully afraid of this new technology. I’ve also pictured myself giving in to road rage and rolling down my window to shout, “Come on! An earthworm crawls faster than you!”
But because I’m an optimist, I’m actually hoping that these new cameras will train motorists to drive at consistent speeds and eliminate their habit of braking hard and speeding up.
If this happens, we can expect smoother traffic conditions, which would then lead to lower fuel consumption and reduced exhaust emissions. Sounds good.
Anyway, the point I really want to make is this: If the Traffic Police are going to utilise these new cameras to catch speeding motorists based on their average speed, then it is only fair that they should also employ this technology to penalise road hogs.
Speed limits are set based on the type of road and with the average motorist in mind. So, on an expressway with a 90km/h limit, anyone driving below
80km/h (except commercial vehicle drivers) should be penalised for road-hogging.
Even newbie drivers shouldn’t have a problem driving at 80km/h. Anyone who finds it difficult should not be driving in the first place, perhaps.
The same goes for anyone driving at the speed limit in the overtaking lane, or in general, anyone travelling at more than 10km/h below the speed limit, even if they’re in one of the middle lanes.
If you impede traffic, you deserve demerit points on your driving licence.
And while we’re on the topic of impeding, perhaps the authorities should consider doubling or trebling the penalties for those caught impeding emergency vehicles.
All these efforts to improve road safety are commendable. But I’ve always felt that there’s been entirely too much focus on speeding and drink-driving.
We need to look at the bigger picture and not be focussed on specific offences.
If we really want safer roads and zero casualties, the most ideal way of achieving this is by changing motorists’ hearts and minds.
Yes, it sounds impossible, but I believe we can accomplish this.
Because if drivers genuinely cared for themselves and others, safer roads would become a given, and there would be less need for enforcement.
But in the meantime, I’m hoping that the new speed cameras will be used to enforce our traffic laws in an equitable manner.