Foreign drivers may have to take local test
YOU can pay for your workers to go for their driving tests. But you cannot pay for a human life lost in an accident.
That is what road safety expert Gerard Pereira, 57, wants to say to companies.
He was referring to one of the proposed Road Traffic Act (RTA) amendments tabled in Parliament on Monday.
With this amendment, work pass holders who drive goods or passengers around must now obtain a local driving licence within six months of the date their work passes being issued.
Under the current RTA, foreigners with a valid Class 3, 3A or 2B foreign licence have a year to convert it to a Singapore licence. The conversion involves passing the Basic Theory Test (BTT).
With the proposed change, work pass drivers here may not be able to simply convert their licences to Singapore's equivalent. Within six months, they may have to obtain a local licence by passing both the BTT and the practical test, explained Mr Pereira.
More details on this proposed change will be given during the second reading of the Bill.
This proposal comes after more heavy vehicle and bus accidents in the past few years, including the case involving three-year-old Kryshan Nirmal Kumar, who was run down by a bus in December.
According to police statistics, there were 44 fatalities involving heavy vehicles last year, up from 32 in 2012.
This change, if implemented, will help foreign drivers familiarise themselves with Singapore's road laws and habits, said Mr Pereira.
While rules and theories can be learnt from the BTT, practical driving is "a different thing" because of the real-life situation drivers are presented with.
"As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Going for the driving test here is part of it, to cultivate the practices of Singaporeans," he said.
With this change, companies relying on foreign worker drivers will incur extra cost in sending them to get their licences, Mr Pereira acknowledged.
Dave Ng, chief executive of Bok Seng Logistics, which employs foreign workers to drive heavy vehicles, agreed.
"It will aggravate the current shortage of drivers in our industry," he lamented, with fewer able to drive legally if the Bill amendment is approved.
But Mr Pereira thinks that the increased safety will be worth the extra cost incurred.
He said: "We always ask our corporate clients if they want to see the name of their companies on the vehicle in an accident."
THE NEW PAPER