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Distracted driving in Singapore: The implications for safety and insurance

Being that Singapore is a highly developed and metropolitan place to live, there is no shortage of distractions here. The city’s affluence affords people with myriad ways to take their mind off of things, which is great when it comes to de-stressing after a hard day of work, taking a quick break from responsibilities to our family, or moving focus away from any kind of unpleasantness that life may have sent our way. This effect isn’t without its problems though.

If you’ve been paying attention to the world around you, you will no doubt have noticed how much more distracted people can be, what with the advent of smartphones and other electronic devices that are constantly dinging, vibrating, and popping up with notifications that something or someone wants our attention. This can be a big enough problem when you’re just trying to sit and have dinner with someone whose attention is constantly divided from socializing during a meal, but it becomes exponentially worse when a person is supposed to be doing something where being distracted could lead to serious injuries to their self or others, such as operating a motor vehicle.

Here, Kwiksure Singapore dives into the topic of distracted driving in Singapore, and provides information on prevalence, prevention, and how it can affect your Singapore car insurance.

Focus factors

With all of the attention that distracted driving has been given over the past many years, you would think that people would be putting down their phones when they drive. After all, campaigns for other driving safety items, like buckling up seat belts or driving at a safe speed have been shown to be effective in the past. However, as it turns out distracted driving is still the #1 cause of traffic accidents in the Lion City.

The crazy thing is, even the people doing the distracted driving are afraid of the behavior. Research has revealed that, while 83% of Singapore drivers admit to driving distracted, 93% of Singapore drivers think it is unsafe when they see other people using their mobile phones while driving. Furthermore, a 2014 survey showed that a majority of drivers felt that road safety had worsened versus just “a few years ago”.

Staying alert

Don’t forget, distracted driving isn’t just about your mobile phone. There are lots of ways that your attention can be taken off of the road and your surroundings while you are driving, including:

  • Loud music
  • Kids or other people in the car
  • Accidents or other roadside distractions
  • In-vehicle entertainment
  • Daydreams

In other words, each of us, as drivers, must be diligent in ensuring that we keep roadways safe both for ourselves and for others.

So what is a person to do? There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce instances of distracted driving. First of all, any phone communication taken while driving needs to be carried out via the hands-free, as hands-free calls, whether handled via a vehicle’s in-car microphones/speakers or a personal headset, are still legal in Singapore.

Next, if you have a real need to use your phone or attend to some other distraction while driving, do not hesitate to pull over to a safe area on the side of the road in order to do so, and then continue driving once you are finished.

Insurance implications

As of 2016, Singapore has had an outright ban on the use of mobile phones while driving; which is to say, the police spelled out that the legal definition of distracted driving is that a driver is using a handheld device actively while their vehicle is in motion. Nevertheless, there are still a number of people who are stopped for using their mobile phones while driving every day in our lovely nation-state. Apparently, some people just aren’t getting the message.

They should, however, as thumbing one’s nose at the law can land you in more hot water than you might think, should you have an accident. If it is proven in a court of law that you were on your phone at the time you were in an accident, not only could you be subject to legal penalties, but also insurance penalties, as well. On the criminal side of things, the Road Traffic Act specifics that first-time offenders can be jailed for up to six months, in addition to a $1,000 fine, while repeat offenders could see both of those figures doubled!

On the insurance side of things, being found to have been distracted driving can hit you right in the wallet, as insurance companies can and will increase your insurance premiums as a result. What’s more, as you will have been found to have been engaged in illegal behavior if you get in an accident while distracted driving, your insurance provider may not pay out on any claims related to it.

Just imagine, for some people, if they had to pay for a totaled car out of pocket, and then saw their insurance premiums jump significantly, their driving days may be over. Thus, it is important to remain fully compliant with the law whilst driving.

Any questions?

With the advent of driverless cars, it is likely that distracted driving will go the way of the dodo as we head into our increasingly automated future. Nevertheless, we will still likely have a few decades ahead where our vehicles will still need a person to navigate them from point A to point B, and during this transitional phase we are only going to see people expand and become more reliant upon their use of wearable/portable technology, thereby making sure that the risk of distracted drivers will be a point of concern for a long time to come.

With this in mind, it’s important to have comprehensive car insurance protection, as even when you’re not in your vehicle, distracted drivers on the road are still quite capable of crashing into it. Of course, to maintain your insurance protection, you also have to make sure that you are adhering to Singapore traffic law, so making sure you are not driving distracted is of the utmost importance.

If you have any questions about driving or insurance in Singapore, reach out to the helpful insurance experts at Kwiksure Singapore! They will gladly provide you with any information you need, as well as with a free comparison of car insurance plans and a free quote. Contact us today!