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    Sep 15, 2014

    Social norms blamed for lack of road courtesy here

    YOU see it all the time on the road - drivers turning or changing lanes without signalling their intention to do so.

    But, according to traffic rules, the failure to signal is an offence.

    The Traffic Police said 564 writs of summons were issued for this offence in the first six months of this year - the highest in three years.

    The penalty, according to the Traffic Police, is $70 for light vehicles and $100 for heavy ones.

    But many motorists told The Straits Times that they did not know they could be fined for turning without signalling.

    Retiree Thomas Wee said: "I didn't know that. So many drivers are not doing it."

    Mr Wee, who is in his 60s and has been driving for about 40 years, asked: "Why, then, are they getting away with it?"

    Freelance writer Kevin Chin, 33, who drives and rides a motorcycle, said he is aware of the rule, "although I haven't met anyone who's been caught personally".

    That could be because the number of writs of summons issued for the offence pales in comparison to those for better-known infringements, such as speeding and running red lights. These made up the bulk of the 367,496 traffic violations last year.

    Like turning without signalling, other practices that irk motorists make up a small percentage of total traffic infringements.

    These include driving without lights and road hogging - defined as the obstruction of traffic moving at faster speeds.

    The Traffic Police said 603 writs of summons were issued for road hogging in the first half of this year, and 72 for driving without headlights on between 7pm and 7am. They attract fines of $70 and $30 respectively.

    Another little-known offence is failing to be in the correct lane before making a turn at a junction.

    For instance, a driver wants to turn right, but remains on a non-turning lane and causes obstruction to other motorists who want to go straight.

    The penalty for this is $130 and four demerit points for light vehicles, and $160 and four demerit points for heavy vehicles.

    Gopinath Menon, vice-chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council, attributes the "general lack of road courtesy" to "everyday pressures".

    "Everybody is in a hurry," he observed. "And there has been more traffic on the road in recent years."

    Automobile Association of Singapore chief executive Lee Wai Mun blames "social norms".

    He said turning without signalling is not common in many Western countries "because of societal pressure".

    In other words, the practice is frowned upon.

    But, in Singapore, Mr Lee added, "when you signal to filter, someone from behind rushes in to fill the gap".

    He believes the trend can be reversed with a mix of "education and enforcement".

    "The two must go hand in hand," he said. "It takes time and effort. But, if we can do it, everyone will be better off."