Saturday, June 11, 2005

Singapore Recognises Danger Posed by Aging Drivers

I've always campaigned for the somewhat controversial move for elderly folks to be disallowed from being behind the wheels when they reach a certain age. We have an age limit on how young a person can be allowed to get their driving license. Similarly, we should also impose an age limit on how old a person should be allowed to continue driving on the roads. Having personally avoided near-accidents in numerous occasions involving elderly folks behind the wheels or those riding motorcycles, I believe it is a smart move to safeguard their own safety and also the safety of the other motorists.

Once again, Singapore has the foresight to see the nobility of such an idea. Singapore will soon launch a special testing programme for aging drivers, since 82 percent of the country's traffic deaths in the first quarter of 2005 involved people age 60 or older. The tests will use a simulator to check senior drivers' reflexes and physical abilities, said Ho Peng Kee, senior minister of state for law and home affairs.

At least now I know it is not such a dumb idea after all. I hope the Malaysian Government will have the common sense to implement such an idea soon and not just politicise the whole issue. The safety of the rakyat is paramount! At least I can take comfort in knowing Karpal Singh will be bringing up a related matter to Parliament - the compulsory use of seatbelts for backseat passagers. If the motion is approved, we are moving in the right direction.


  1. I recently read an article that claimed that a large percentage of road traffic accidents are caused by younger drivers, and in particular young, under the influence of alcohol and driving too fast.

    I live in a suburb of North West London, and daily I see people who are not old, let's say between 18 and 60, commit breaches of Road Traffic Act blatantly and without compunction. Yesterday, a young boy in 4x4 impatient to turn left at junction and not willing to wait for car in front of him turning right mounted the pavement in order to make this right turn, without regard for pedestrians.

    Personally I feel that the idea of limiting anyone's ability to do anything on the basis of age, race, gender, religion is a breach of human rights, and this tendancy of dividing the population into certain groups only encourages a divise community.

    I have always experienced the policies of Singapore as slightly Orwellian, and that there is as in the United States, little sense of humour or irony about life or anything for that matter.

    Government's making decisions for us that we could easily make ourselves, takes away our sense of responsibility to each other. Though I have to say, that is in short supply (sense of responsibility to each other) across the entire world.

    I would not agree with you. I believe that we should all be on bicycles anyway, or public transport, (absolutely within urban and (sub)urban areas) and not polluting the environment and wasting the planet's energy resources. There is no necessity for the kinds of private transport we can purchase these days apart from human selfishness and corporate greed, and government's need to find the next thing to tax.

  2. I'm a big supporter of public transportation, as you will realise after reading that post I've just linked for you.

    However, due to the lack of an efficient public transportation system, we have to rely heavily on private vehicles to get from A to B. I've always stated that if one is available in Penang, I would sell my car on the spot and jump on public transport. If I was living in Singapore, I wouldn't see a need for owning private vehicles with their efficient public transportation systems.

    Our country having TWO national car manufacturers doesn't help the situation. With graduates thinking of owning cars as their top priority after landing a job, it compounds the situation even more! So in reality, we will be seeing more cars on the roads in the future rather than seeing less of it. Seeing that the Government uses car ownership as one of the barometers in gauging the 'quality of life' one has attained (indicating economic development) and uses it to their advantage during general elections, a reduction in private car ownership can only be a dream, at least at this very moment.

    I do not rule out incidences involving younger drivers especially those driving under the influence or those driving too fast. Not surprising, old folks do that too! I can understand why you feel so 'connected' with this issue but we already have laws for that. For example, here we can snap a photo of that incident and send it to the authorities for action.

    However, we do not have laws to handle aging drivers who are no longer safe on roads. I support an age limit since it is much easier to implement and won't cost public funds in running tests on them over and over again, but you have to understand what Singapore is trying to do now is to check if everyone of those aging drivers are still road-worthy. If at the age of 90, they are still road-worthy, carry on driving!

    I feel that old folks should be enjoying life at that age and not worry about their own safety while driving on the roads. Their children should be caring for them instead by ferrying them around or they can just take the taxi or other public transportation to move.

    Being liberal and all, it's easy to say we should be allowed to make decisions for ourselves and have the total freedom to do so. However, we must face the fact that not everyone is capable of making the right decisions however highly they think of themselves.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to ask people to agree with me. I have always acknowledged that it is a controversial idea and would probably receive much opposition but if people could just clear their minds for one moment and think of the nobility of the idea and the benefits it could actually bring, we can actually formulate something out that is more suitable for our society.