Bikers, be safe
If you are a motorcyclist or if you know someone who rides a motorbike, you should be worried.
Because more motorcyclists have died on our roads in the first two months of this year.
The Traffic Police are so worried, they introduced a slogan - "Ride for Life" - for their road safety campaign for motorcyclists.
In the first two months of the year, 23 motorcyclists and pillion riders died in traffic accidents.
This figure is higher than the number of fatalities in the same two-month period in the last two years - 15 last year and 19 in 2012.
The police acknowledged that this was worrying and, to curb the rising number of fatal accidents, they launched the slogan last month for their Singapore Ride Safe campaign.
They told The New Paper that the tagline was to remind every motorcyclist to observe road safety at all times as they owed it to their loved ones to make it home safely every day.
According to the Traffic Police's Road Traffic Situation 2013 figures, the number of rider and pillion rider casualties fell from 4,370 in 2012 to 3,726 last year.
That was then.
Current figures make for worrying reading.
This was highlighted in a post by the police on its Facebook page on Feb 19, which said that 16 motorcyclists died and 299 were injured between Jan 1 and Feb 12.
That number has since climbed to a total of 500 dead and injured in the first two months of this year.
Mr Gan Thiam Poh, member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport and MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said the alarming figures stressed the need to pay more attention to how vulnerable motorcyclists were.
He said: "On the roads, I fear for their safety and have to exercise extra caution for them as they are the ones who are vulnerable.
"I have to be alert all the time and always maintain a safe distance from them."
At a media conference last month, the Traffic Police pointed out that motorcyclists were solely responsible in 53 per cent of accidents last year.
They also listed the top three motorcyclist mistakes: failing to have proper control, failing to keep a proper lookout, and disobeying traffic light signals.
Mr Gerard Pereira, a training manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, said that although it is difficult to pinpoint the blame without knowing the exact nature of the accidents, speeding and fatigue are often two major factors.
He said: "As roads get more congested, motorists and motorcyclists alike may take a longer time to get to their destination.
"So the tendency to speed increases and with that, the probability of accidents occurring, too."
He said that to counter this trend, motorcyclists should plan their routes and leave for their destination early so they do not feel the need to speed.
They should also slow down when entering corners to avoid losing control of their bikes.
His colleague, Mr Aman Aljunied, an assistant manager, added that impatient motorcyclists tend to cultivate bad riding habits over time.
These include weaving through traffic without keeping a lookout for other vehicles and speeding through junctions where they think traffic is light.
He said: "Riders cannot be complacent and must also learn to read the roads.
"This means pre-empting motorists' intentions so that they can avoid a collision if they decide to change lanes."
Mr Gan echoed the instructors' sentiments, saying that he had observed on the roads and received feedback from residents and the Traffic Police that one of the biggest contributing factors to the rise in fatalities was speeding.
He said: "There are many reasons to speed, but I think a lot of it is due to the thrill and excitement that you get when you go fast.
"I have seen this myself. We can't say it's the main reason for the statistics, but it is likely to be one of the contributing factors."
Stepping up their efforts to curb reckless riding, the Traffic Police conducted several enforcement operations two weeks ago, where they issued summonses to 184 errant motorcyclists for offences such as riding on footways, beating the red light and failing to signal.
Another two operations held on Feb 27 and March 3 caught more than 80 motorcyclists who committed similar traffic offences.
The police emphasised that motorcyclists put their lives at greater risk if they do not heed their own vulnerabilities on the road, as any mistake could be fatal.
But they also advised motorists to always exercise extra precaution and keep a proper lookout for motorcyclists as they are subjected to vulnerabilities such as their visibility to other motorists and open exposure to surroundings.
Mr Aman, who has 43 years of riding experience under his belt and an accident-free record for more than 30 years, said that many new riders tend to ride recklessly within a few months of earning their licence.
He said: "It takes at least five to six years to fully understand how to properly control a motorcycle.
"To be a safe rider, one must gain more experience, but it won't help if a rider just wants to speed."
As roads get more congested, motorists and motorcyclists alike may take a longer time to get to their destination. So the tendency to speed increases and with that, the probability of accidents occurring, too.
- Mr Gerard Pereira, a training manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre,
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of motorcyclists and pillion riders who have died in traffic accidents in the first two months of this year.
RECENT FATAL MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS
A 27-year-old motorcyclist died (above) after he collided with a lorry on the Bukit Timah Expressway towards Woodlands Checkpoint at about 6.30pm. His pillion rider, a 24-year-old man, was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) with minor abrasions.
A 23-year-old motorcyclist died after he was hit by a taxi which was making a U-turn at a junction near Namly Avenue at about 11.45pm.
A 37-year-oldmotorcyclist died after an accident with a lorry on Woodlands Avenue 12 towards Gambas Avenue at about 8.25pm. He was pronounced dead on the scene, but his pillion rider, a 36-year-old, was taken to KTPH.
A 20-year-oldmotorcyclist and his pillion rider collided with a taxi at the junction of Choa Chu Kang Way and Choa Chu Kang Avenue 2 at about 1.55am. The motorcyclist died that day at National University Hospital.
A motorcycle collided with a prime mover at about 8.25am on Telok Blangah Road towards Keppel Road. The 23-year-old motorcyclist died later that day at Singapore General Hospital.
A 54-year-old motorcyclist was pronounced dead on the scene after he collided with a lorry at the junction of Tuas West Road and Tuas Avenue 7 at about 6.05am.
Source: Traffic Police