Singapore Traffic Adventure


by Diana Gillatt, TMA Member Tanunda

Despite your travel doctor’s warnings about exotic illnesses like typhoid, malaria and rabies, the fact is that the most common health problems suffered by travellers are much more mundane things like diarrhoea, coughs and colds and accidents / injuries.

Abroad as at home, motor vehicle injuries are a major cause of trauma and for travellers there are the added hazards of unfamiliar traffic rules and often quite different general attitudes to traffic safety in foreign countries. In fact for travellers in developing countries it is more often as pedestrians, cyclists or on public transport that we are injured, rather than as the driver or passenger in a car.

This was brought home to me recently during a short visit to Singapore. Now Singapore is one of the more developed countries in Asia, with good roads and appearances in the city not so different from at home. But even here travellers need to be aware that they are not at home.

Walking back to my motel along the paved footpath beside the river, I was offered a ride on a Trishaw by a pleasant elderly gentleman. The price was reasonable and it seemed like the chance for a quiet easy ride along the leafy Esplanade and a rest for my feet after a day exploring Chinatown.

 

 

 

Unbeknownst to me, however, there was apparently one section of this Esplanade with some steps that the Trishaw couldn’t negotiate, so once I had agreed the price and climbed aboard, my charming host headed off in the opposite direction! After he assured me he really was taking me to the correct motel, he proceeded to ride out to the main road and to my horror left the footpath to take up position in the middle of a busy major intersection!

While waiting for the traffic lights to change, I held on to the hope that we were going to cross with the pedestrians to the other side, but no. In fact he didn’t even wait for the lights, but decided that the time was ripe for us to launch out into the main thoroughfare, do a U-turn and carry on down the road ignoring the rushing vehicles all around us! Being overtaken by a bus and a truck while we were in the right hand turning lane didn’t phase him at all, and of course he gently guided us around a corner and eventually back on to the quiet riverside esplanade again. I had just about stopped quaking enough to pay him the fare by the time we arrived at the motel.

Needless to say there was no opportunity of a bicycle helmet on a trip like this, and the risk taking that was obviously an every day event for my driver left this Australian quaking and looking for the nearest Singapore Sling to calm her nerves.

 

 

 

I can look back on this little episode and laugh now, but many travellers aren’t so lucky.

And these roads in Singapore are rather tame when compared to some other countries…

Hiring a motorbike to get around a beach resort in Indonesia or Thailand may seem fun, but is there a helmet provided? Do you know which side of the road you are meant to ride on? Are the road rules different from at home, and does anyone pay them any attention?

It’s great to have a some adventure on your travels, but don’t leave all your common sense behind!

Here are a few tips:

  • Be aware of the local road rules – for instance, which side of the road are vehicles meant to drive on?

  • Take extra care as a pedestrian – don’t expect the traffic to try to avoid you!

  • Ask for a helmet if cycling or riding a motor bike.

  • If you hire a car, ask for one that has seat belts and air bags. Avoid driving at night.

  • Take a first aid kit with you on your travels so you can manage minor injuries yourself.


 

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