It was 7am, on a Thursday morning, and I was tasked with sending my sister to school. My parents let me drive our family car and as I took it out for a spin against the morning rush hour jam, I could feel an entire well of emotions bottling up within me as usual: the glum just-another-work-day feeling, the annoyance of having to wake up early in the morning, and the frustrations of travelling at 60km/h on a 3-lane straight road while being sardined between larger cars and heavy vehicles. As you can see, these conditions don’t go well with me.
Anyway, as I was driving and listening to my iPod rock songs blasting on the car stereo, I recalled reading an article on the Straits Times many months back – when I was still serving National Service – that talks about the top few “bad” driving habits prevalent among drivers in Singapore. Since I was in a semi-road-rage mood, I came up with a list of the most common driving habits I observe on the roads in this overly congested nation. (somebody’s fault, no doubt, but I will not discuss that today)
ARE YOU GUILTY OF THEM? (In no order of annoyance/hazard levels)
1. Cutting queues
Alright, so during rush hour, certain roads are more frequently used than others, and this results in pile-ups at turnings that filter cars into such roads. As taught in driving school, drivers are taught to keep to their lanes and line up behind the queue when waiting for your turn to come. So far, I’ve been pretty much a good citizen, but it annoys me to no end whenever I see someone abruptly change from the rightmost lane to the leftmost lane within 50m of road distance, and attempt to enter the left-turning lane by FORCING his way into the queue, happily ignoring the dozen or so cars lined up behind where he just cut in. For Christ’s sake, go and queue damn it.
2. Road Hogging OK folks we know that there is a speed limit on certain roads, so it’s understandable why you decide to drive within the accepted speed limits (e.g. 50km/h on a 2-lane road full of pedestrians). But there is a problem when one decides to crawl below the speed limit on the expressway at the rightmost lane. Hello, rightmost lane is meant for overtaking and fast vehicles, not for you to take your grandparents for a nice stroll in the park. If you’re not going to speed, keep to the left. At least you won’t get stared or sworn at by speed-craving drivers (like me) behind you, and more importantly, you are not holding up traffic!
3. Road Hogging (Heavy Vehicles) In some sense, I don’t really count this as a bad driving habit, but it’s still annoying nonetheless. Heavier vehicles carrying load in Singapore have a legal speed limit imposed upon them, and they are usually borne on the rear of the car in stickers like these:
While I cannot fault those people who adhere to their imposed speed limits, it can be quite annoying at times when you discover your lane has been “speed capped” by these vehicles, especially when the road speed limit is much higher. This isn’t much of a danger to other drivers, but it certainly is a cause for a massive slowdown in traffic on the road, which will eventually lead to a jam.
4. Swerving in-and-out (“Taxi Phenomenon”) I decided to coin the term “Taxi Phenomenon” because I observe this behaviour most often in taxis. Imagine being on a congested road and cars are moving pretty slowly. A taxi is on the rightmost lane, impatiently trying to get a move on. He spots the vehicles on the lane to his left are moving slightly faster than those in his current lane, so he swerves to the left. Then immediately after that the cars in front of him slow down, and he’s forced to swerve back to the right, back to where he started out. Taxi drivers commonly do this, due to their long hours spent on the road, but I’ve seen other cars in similar situations as well. So much for impatient driving. While the drivers who have done the above-mentioned look really stupid on the road (seriously. Go look out for such drivers and you’ll realize how dumb their driving looks), there are some serious people who manage to get away with swerving in and out between lanes. Imagine while you’re driving on the road, you see this sporty-looking sedan speed past you, then swerves into your lane to overtake the next guy ahead, before swerving back in front of him. While this may certainly save you some precious seconds on the road – and possibly make your driving “skillz” look pro – I honestly don’t think the additional risks incurred is worth it.
Tailgating refers to the process of driving very closely to the vehicle in front of you, giving both drivers an increased risk in collision should the front driver slow down or stop abruptly. Many people tailgate to annoy the front driver, force him to drive faster, or both.
Ever seen drivers get pissed off on the road and start hurling verbal abuses at each other? Welcome to road rage. While road rage by definition refers to “angry or violent behaviour”, it sometimes also encompasses reckless driving, where drivers will drive with increased speeds and swerve about dangerously out of frustration, possibly increasing the risk of accidents occurring. I’ve personally experienced road rage many times, but I’m a really nice guy. All I do is swear at my steering wheel and dashboard when I’m alone in the car and see someone piss me off while I’m driving.
7. No/Late Signalling Self-explanatory. Dude, if you want to go left, at least have the basic courtesy of turning on your damned signal so that the speeding car from behind will know you’re coming out waaaaay in advance. And no there’s no freaking point turning on your right signal immediately when you execute your right turning (yes I’ve seen drivers do that before). What’s the point in that?!
8. Street Racing OK, so you’ve got a swanky Subaru WRX Impreza and you like to show it off by revving your engines really loudly and maneuverering between vehicles on the expressway at above 120km/h. My only advice, is that you should go sell away that tin can and buy yourself a REAL sports car (like a Porsche) before doing that again. Alternatively, save those “street racing” for night runs at Lim Chu Kang area, away from civilization, and go gain some street cred among the spirits there. At least you won’t kill the spirits like how you’d kill people driving like that on the PIE.
Most importantly, no matter how experienced a driver you are, always remember to be considerate to other drivers, and drive safely!