On the roads in Singapore

By Joyce Gan

In 2006, 190 persons were killed on the roads and 9,709 injured, of whom 104 suffered serious injuries, according to the Singapore Police Force.

Speeding: There were 1,657 speed-related accidents in 2006 of which 66 were fatal. More than 1 in 3 of all fatal accidents were speed-related.

Drink-driving: In 2006, the number of persons killed in drink-driving related accidents increased from 20 to 25, and the number of persons injured in such accidents increased from 223 to 336.

Vulnerability of motorcyclists and pillion riders: They continue to be the most vulnerable group of road users, accounting for 53.1 percent of all fatalities in 2006.

Enforcement: Summonses issued for offences such as speeding or careless driving decreased by 6.9 percent, from 140,405 to 130,714 in 2006.

"It is good that the Vatican has raised the importance of safe road driving, and better Christian driving. Road rage can easily erupt over careless drivers.

"I usually pray while I am driving. When I am faced with an errant driver, instead of getting upset, I just say 'Father, forgive him for he does not know what he has done.' I find it very useful and it calms me.

"It is also very good to have the crucifix at some spot in the car, to remind us to be Christ-like on the road!"

- Dr Gabriel Oon, Church of St. Ignatius

"It is indeed very commendable that Vatican has come up with this project.

"I was once a hyperactive driver who didn't believe in travelling below 70 km/h and coupled with my job as a Patrol Team Officer, my adrenaline rushed up whenever I was in the vehicle. I simmered down only after a serious accident and after I got married and had my two children.

"Today, when on the road, I always make it a point to give way to others and though I get angry at traffic offenders; I make peace with myself saying that 'They are eager to meet our Creator and that's why they are speeding and driving recklessly.'

"Most of us will cherish life when we are involved in a serious accident and miraculously escaped unscathed (as I did). The 'Drivers' Ten Commandments' may only serve as a reminder, and drivers will practise what is preached only when they have experienced a traumatic episode on the road."

- Paul Antony Fernandez, 42, St. Anne's Church

(continued on page 2)

"I think the 'Driver's Ten Commandments' are a great way of educating drivers of their responsibility when they are behind the wheel of what is potentially a killing machine. The commandments are simple to understand and certainly easy to implement.

"My concern is that most, if not all, drivers today already think they are careful enough and that they do not need such commandments. I believe that in order for the 'Driver's Ten Commandments' to take effect, all drivers must go through a ritual to swear allegiance to these commandments - sort of like a baptism into the habit of safe driving.

"Maybe the Traffic Police could make this into a public service campaign and randomly stop drivers along our public roads to perform such a ritual and then issue them with a (baptism) certificate.

"As I am an infrequent driver, I cannot say for certain if these commandments will actuallymake me a safer driver on public roads. But since I do travel in cars and taxis a lot, and have witnessed drivers' behaviours, I am convinced that the commandments touch on every significant nuance of the average Singaporean driver's state of mind.

"However, I believe that in reality, the drivers' commandments are no more effective in influencing drivers' behaviour on the roads than the Ten Commandments are in influencing the behaviour of the average Christian. Like all things novel, they will enjoy some publicity when they are made public but old habits will take over and I'm afraid these commandments will soon be left on the shelf."

- Joseph Wong, 49, St. Anne's Church

"It's scary to see pictures of badly crushed vehicles and the accompanying text that tells a sad story.

"Most of the time my heart goes out in prayer for those involved in such accidents knowing very well it is usually the families who suffer.

"Not owning a driver's license could be a blessing for me. Perhaps I might have the tendency to speed my vehicle or feel extremely mad at another motorist over trivial road matters. In my opinion, Catholic motorists, before driving off should say a silent prayer behind the wheel seeking God's hand in safely guiding them to their destination and at the same time pray for the other drivers on the road as well."

- Ian Carnegie, 59 years old, Blessed Sacrament Church

(continued on page 3)

"It makes sense to come out with guidelines and try to get every driver to follow through the spiritual way.

"It is not easy especially when you are on the road; actions and reactions happen so swiftly and you don't have the time to reflect on what is right or wrong. It is only after the incident that you realize that you should not have behaved in a certain way. So you go for your confession and regret your action and promise not to commit it again. This is our human weakness.

"It is timely for our churches in Singapore to take a proactive stand against drink-driving and road rage and their consequences, and remind us, during homilies, to inculcate good driving habits. I always feel that since I am given a car to drive, I must be grateful to God for this gift and pray that he will go on to protect and guide me on the road."

- Cynthia Tan, 54, Church of St. Francis of Assisi

"Guidelines are easy to come out with but difficult to put into practice. We are all human and we have our sensitivities/weaknesses and tend to show it when we are frustrated or angry.

"For example, it is common here that immediately after attending Mass, we find two drivers in the carpark arguing, not giving way to each other, blocking one another, trying to be the first to get out, or taking their time to drive out while others are waiting for them in the carpark and horning away. That is not practising patience, humility, understanding, love or respect for one another.

"I suggest that the church come out with a flyer to remind all our Catholic drivers on what needs to be done and what not to do on the road. To follow the commandments we need to be disciplined and obedient.

"Pray to God to lead us in the way to have good driving habits."

- Paul Tan, 59, Church of St. Francis of Assisi

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