Tuesday, April 07, 2009

1st World Road, 3rd World Driver

If you are a fast driver like me, speeding through highway in Singapore you should know how frustrated one could be, and by the way, speeding don't kill but driver with bad reflexes do. Imagine a 5-lane highway with only no fast lane, trucks and slow cars occupying the rest of the four lanes, leaving only the 5th lane for fast car. And 80% of the time, the only one lane that’s supposedly meant for over taking, was occupied by taxi cruising at speed below the 90km/hr. In my opinion, reeducation on road etiquette is the first step to ease up the congested highway.

I have been driving for more then a quarter of a century, traveled around the world where I have the opportunity to drive in some of the countries I have traveled to and live like France, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the U.S., Spain, Hong Kong just to name a few. Hence, I’m totally qualified to compare and give my viewpoints on my driving and road traveling experience in these different countries.

First of all, I would like to do a generalization on these countries driving etiquette. Drivers generally fall into two categories, the western and the eastern mentality. In the western mentality, they are polite, patient and respectful while they are in their own premise but once they drive in Non-western countries, they act no better then their eastern counterparts. The phenomenon is just the contrary, when eastern drivers drive in their own countries, they are just the worst driver without any good reflexes, inconsiderate, inpatient and rude but once they drive outside their own countries, you will notice that these drivers are very out of character. Why the behavioral changes you may ask? The answer is simple, it’s know as “lead by examples”

So, is this ill accredited to individuals or the environment? The answer, through my years of observation, is the environment. Though environment is created by the individuals but most importantly, these individuals’ mentalities or lack there of are sculpted by each individual culture and society. Take Singapore for example; a country raised by a government body they encourage a “Kia Su” or “afraid of Loosing”. With this notion instilled in Singaporean’s head, the drivers in Singapore would rather not let you overtake him because that will mean that they are loosing out to you.

I drive in Singapore everyday whenever I come back for vacation . Most of the time, I commute along CTE between Upper Serangoon to KJE exit. Here is what I encounter every time I’m on the highway; streaks of cars trailing behind a very slow moving car on the overtaking fast lane, usually it’s behind a cab and, mind you, I’m not discriminating but this is what I observe so far. Furthermore, to rub salt on the wound, none of the faster cars can overtake using the next left lane, I know it’s wrong to do that but if there is an window of opportunity open to ease the flow of traffic we will have to do it. Here is the kick; the next lane left lane to the overtaking lane is mostly occupied by trucks, which are suppose to drive not faster then 70km/hr. Now, I might not be a prophet but I can pretty much predict that this might cause a slow down in overall traffic flow.

I have notice this time, when I got back recently, that the section of CTE that I mention above had added an additional lane or two to the highway. I personally feel that there is no point adding lane if Singapore driver doesn’t know to stick to their respectively lane. Awareness public announcement is an essential tool to educate them on the etiquette each driver have to observe.

We advertise to the world as a 1st world infrastructure, 1st world building, 1st world financial system, and first world everything, well, except our 3rd world local talents or work force, as advertised by our government, sorry I can resist the temptation to add this statement in… So, while we offer the world our 1st world services, we can must also bare in mind a 1st world mentality goes a long way to show how civilize we are.

No comments: