Statement by Mr Bernard Tay, President of AA Singapore

Singapore, 6 August 2014 – The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2014 introduced in Parliament on Monday denotes that it will be an offence to operate any function of a communication device while holding it and driving, among other amendments. With road safety being a longstanding goal of the Automobile Association of Singapore (AA Singapore), the recent changes are of interest to us.

Currently, it is an offence for drivers to be communicating via their handheld mobile devices while driving. Widening the scope of this offence to include operat ing a communication device while driving would be a welcome d boost to road safety.

As reflected by a June 2013 report by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah, operating a communication device while holding it and driving is a cause of distraction, increasing the driver’s mental workload. This could lead to 'inattention blindness', in which drivers fail to visually process or remember what their eyes see, or ‘tunnel vision’, in which drivers have a propensity to gaze centrally ahead instead of scanning their surroundings . Stricter rules on usage of mobile devices on the road would help encourage drivers to maintain focus behind the wheel , decreasing the probability of an accident caused by preventable distractions.

Moreover, the bill provides a voluntary corrective training course for eligible drivers, subsequently allowing those who pass to have three demerit points removed. We are in support of this initiative, which allows good driving habits to be inculcated and developed.

Finally, we understand that cultural and geograp hical differences often result in foreign workers having a dissimilar understanding or experience when it comes to traffic practices. Apart from making it mandatory for work pass holders (who need to drive as part of their job) to get a local driving license within six months of the pass being issued, we believe that emphasis should be placed on how foreign drivers can be educated in regards to local roads and traffic practices, and how the latter can cultivate safe driving habits.

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About the Automobile Association of Singapore AA

As a representative of the Singapore motoring arena since 1907, the Automobile Association of Singapore (AA Singapore ) is committed to serving the needs of its over 83,000 members and the local motoring community. The Association is a voice of motorists, acting as a bridge between the motoring public and the relevant authorities. AA members can enjoy emergency roadside assistance as well as benefits and privileges at a myriad of motoring and lifestyle outlets both locally and worldwide. AA’s vision is to be the partner in motoring and to excel as the leader in quality vehicle recovery and motoring services in Singapore

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