Thursday, 18 February 2016

Traffic Police using mobile cameras to curb speeding

The Straits Times, 17 Feb 2016

In their latest bid to clamp down on speeding, the Traffic Police have from this week started using a new mobile digital speed trap at accident-prone areas, where motorists are known to speed, and areas where illegal races are held.

Called the Mobile Speed Camera, these bright orange cameras are equipped with their own power source and capture images digitally. They can be deployed anywhere within a week.

They are part of a new targeted approach to curb speeding. Yesterday, the Traffic Police attributed the drastic drop in speeding and running red-light offences last year to the use of digital red light cameras and speed traps.

In 2014, there were 223 accidents due to running red lights. This fell to 169 last year. The number of speeding-related accidents also dropped to 1,197 last year, from 1,363 the year before.

But concerns remain.

Motorcyclists made up almost half of those killed on the roads last year. A rise in the number of motorcyclists and their pillion riders getting injured on the road was also behind the increase in the overall injury accident count.

There were also more accidents involving elderly pedestrians aged 60 and older. There were 211 such accidents last year, and over a quarter was due to jaywalking.

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Cameras helped cut accidents: Traffic Police
Fewer accidents due to speeding and running red lights last year; new mobile camera being used
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 17 Feb 2016

Cameras that catch motorists who speed or run red lights helped to reduce the number of related road accidents last year, said the Traffic Police.

There were 169 accidents due to motorists running red lights last year, down from 223 in 2014, according to figures released yesterday. Accidents caused by speeding fell to 1,197 from 1,363.

The Traffic Police have now come up with a mobile version of their speed cameras that can be deployed anywhere within a week.

The bright orange mobile speed camera is equipped with its own power source. It takes up space of about 1.5 sq m and can cover five lanes, tracking up to 32 vehicles simultaneously. It is part of a new targeted approach to curb speeding.

The cameras, which are digital, will be used at notorious speeding spots and areas where illegal races have taken place.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Sam Tee, commander of the Traffic Police, said three such cameras have been bought so far and there are plans to procure more.

The first was deployed on Monday in Seletar Link, a hot spot for illegal racing. The other two have not yet been deployed.

The cameras can run round-the-clock and transmit pictures wirelessly, eliminating the need to retrieve film negatives.

There are 240 existing digital cameras at traffic junctions and 20 in areas to catch speedsters.

"Every time a driver sees an orange pole, it triggers his sense of safety and he will slow down," said AC Tee. "These visual signs go a long way in reinforcing a safety culture."

WATCH OUT: The Traffic Police's new mobile speed cameras can be deployed in just a week. Road safety billboards targeting foreign motorcyclists will also be seen at Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints.
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Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay said the mobile speed cameras will give the Traffic Police more flexibility in enforcement.

"The police cannot be everywhere all the time. You can use cameras like these to deter people from committing crimes - and when the numbers come down, you can deploy them elsewhere."

Motorists believe the new cameras will make drivers more cautious.

"When drivers see a speed camera, the natural instinct is to brake," said taxi driver Ben Lim, 40.

Traffic Police figures showed that 152 people died on the roads last year, three fewer than in 2014 - a continuation of a downward trend in the past five years.

Drink-driving accidents also declined - to 134 from 182 in 2014.

But the number of injuries and fatal accidents involving speeding vehicles has gone up.

Last year, there were 8,021 injury accidents, up almost 3 per cent from 7,809 cases in 2014.

Fatal speeding accidents rose to 48 last year, from 43 in 2014.

But AC Tee said overall road safety has improved, and suggested that another factor could be the increased use of in-car cameras and smartphones, which can capture evidence of offences and help to "police the roads".

The Traffic Police e-feedback portal receives an average of 500 videos and images each month.

Also, some drivers are going back to school after committing traffic offences.

The Safe Driving Course, launched in November last year and conducted at all three driving schools here, helps to correct dangerous road behaviour. Those who complete the course get three demerit points deducted from their driving records.

As of Jan 1 this year, 1,780 motorists have completed it.

"More motorists are obeying red-light signals and speed limits," said AC Tee. "We would like to thank these conscientious motorists for playing their part in keeping our roads safe."

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Key areas of concern: Motorcyclists, reckless drivers, the elderly
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 17 Feb 2016

Motorcyclists, the elderly and reckless drivers remain three key areas of concern, the Traffic Police said yesterday.

Their latest statistics show that last year, 4,875 motorcyclists and their pillion riders were injured, a 5 per cent rise on 2014.

Motorcyclists and their pillion passengers also comprised almost half of all road deaths last year - 72 out of a total of 152.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Sam Tee, commander of the Traffic Police, said that in 40 per cent of accidents involving motorcyclists, the rider was at fault.

The top three causes of motorcycle accidents were a failure to keep a lookout, failing to keep proper control, or not giving way to traffic with the right of way.

The Traffic Police are trying to stem this rising number by educating the motorcycling community, particularly Malaysian motorcyclists who ride into Singapore.

According to latest Land Transport Authority statistics, an average of 54,000 foreign vehicles entered Singapore each day in 2014, mostly motorbikes.

The Traffic Police are erecting billboards at Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints with road safety messages in all four official languages aimed at motorcyclists entering the country.

Motorcycling blogger Ian Tan, 39, believes many riders here are still not wearing basic safety gear while riding - such as long trousers, covered shoes and full-face helmets.

"There are still too many riders who don't ride well," he said. "They think they are riding expertly when they weave in and out recklessly. Actually they are putting themselves and others in danger."

Meanwhile, the Traffic Police reported a rise in accidents involving elderly pedestrians aged 60 and older. There were 211 cases last year, up from 194 in 2014. Over a quarter of these accidents happened when the pedestrians were jaywalking.

Chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council Bernard Tay said the authorities could look into building more facilities such as traffic crossings in estates with older residents.

The Traffic Police also pointed out that through enforcement operations, the number of "reckless and dangerous driving offences" detected increased from 38 in 2014 to 57 last year.

These offences include illegal racing and recklessly weaving in and out of traffic.

"We will mount daily roadblocks to target drink drivers... illegal racing, and reckless riding and driving," said AC Tee.

"Those who misbehave on the road will be taken to task swiftly."

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