Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

How To Fix Inconsiderate Drivers

At some time or other, probably just about all drivers will find themselves enraged with some other driver. It could be reckless driving, idiotic parking, or a variety of other inconsiderate road behaviour. It’s fortunate, I think, that social networks have provided many an avenue to vent their frustration, otherwise there might be lots more violence on our roads.

SKA1071C

I have not been so unfortunate to have met with so many infuriating experiences. But an incident occurred the last weekend when a car, a BMW with a NUS staff carpark label and bearing car plates SKA1071C, was most inconsiderately left parked illegally in front of and blocking a row of cars.

I appreciate that sometimes drivers are lazy, and may have thought they’d just leave their car temporarily at some improper spot so that they could run in to a shop or something to grab something. I waited a few minutes, before I sounded my horn. No one showed up. I waited a few more minutes, then sounded my horn more aggressively. Still no one showed up.

Walking over to the car for a closer look, I noticed a note had been placed on the windscreen to call a number. Oh yes, clearly a very lazy driver, but perhaps with a little good sense to leave a number. Oh but on the other hand, if the driver could not hear my horn, he must be surely quite somewhere further away than simply in the immediate vicinity.

So never mind, I called the number. No answer. I sounded my horn again. I called two more times. My calls were all unanswered.

I was really getting to be quite annoyed. Now, I must point out that the carpark was not full. In fact, there were at least half a dozen lots available, which is a good number considering it is a small place anyway. To simply not want to use those proper lots, choosing instead to block other vehicles, not being in the immediate vicinity to remove his vehicle, and then not answering his phone, this is just completely inconsiderate and lacking in civic mindedness.

Sometimes I wonder if we could have a better way to deal with these errant drivers. Posting on social media has an intent to shame these drivers, but more often than not, such efforts have limited reach. Unless, of course, it turns viral, and by then, given how things sometimes turn out in Singapore, vigilante justice might take over and bring things, possibly, too far.

I’m not very sure what I want. On the one hand, it would seem just to shame these drivers and make them regret their actions. However, will this really work? Another approach is if technology can help us make enforcement present everywhere, so that people don’t even want to risk flouting the law. However, simply slapping a fine might not work with some people either. The BMW driver in this case, for example, might just take the fine like a premium carpark charge, a premium for his parking convenience.

I don’t have a clever solution. I did have this idea though. You know those mobile apps from NEA and LTA that let you take a photo and send it in to report about a problem that needs to be fixed? Well, how about an app that takes a photo of an offence, send it in to say the SPF or LTA so that someone could take follow-up action?

That’s going to be riddled with problems, of course. First, the photo might not be true. Using an app that directly takes photos could help avert the simple problem of nasty fellas uploaded doctored photos, although surely smart fellas will know how to still send fake photos. However, the photos may still not show other pertinent circumstances of the offence.

Another take on the idea is for the photos to simply be aggregated and published into a public forum. This is the shame and embarrass idea like what we had with the SG parking idiots website and the bunch of videos from Singapore Reckless Drivers. However, we should have something more systemic and organised, and professionally moderated. We could also have an avenue for the errant driver to refute the claimed offence, or explain the circumstances leading to the offence.

We’ll still need some mechanism to make sure such methods bite. In fact, I don’t even think our laws are sometimes dealing with this effectively. For some people, shame and money (in the form of fines) don’t matter to them. Jail, of course, might be excessive for these, usually, minor offences.

We need to work out a balanced system that, while not having to depend on police or enforcement officers being present everywhere, can still be true, unbiased, and mete effective action. Is this possible at all?

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