10 common causes of traffic accidents and how car insurance can help

10 common causes of traffic accidents and how car insurance can help

Updated 26 Nov 2019

Traffic accidents come in all shapes and sizes. And severity. Some are exactly what it is – pure accidents, while some could have been avoided e.g. tailgating or aggressive driving. But there’s one similarity among them all: it can happen anytime, whether you expect it or not.

Which brings us to the importance of getting the right car insurance. It might be compulsory for all drivers to be insured, but the ball is in your court when it comes to choosing one with the optimal quote. Sometimes, it may not be your fault in an accident, but you're still liable e.g. a chain accident. That's when car insurance is especially relevant.

Here are 10 common causes of traffic accidents, the penalties if you were found to be causing the accident, and also whether you're covered by car insurance. Watch out for these when you're driving on the road.

1. Driving Under Alcohol Influence

If it’s any indication, the police roadblocks set up past midnight seem to be telling us that drink driving is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents. In an inebriated state, the danger lies in reduced reaction time and poor vision.

Do note that driving while you're sleepy can be as dangerous as drink driving! Although there're no strict rules against sleepy-driving, you're putting yourself, your passengers, and others on the road in danger. So drive only when you're in the right condition to drive.

Penalties for drink-driving 

If you fail the breathalyser, your bone-headed decision to drive home after a night out of tequila shots carries a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000 or up to six months’ imprisonment. Depending on how much over the limit, you'll also serve a driving suspension between 12 months to 48 months.

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

NOT APPLICABLE if you were found to be drink-driving. However, if you were struck by another driver who was under alcohol influence, make sure you make a police report as soon as possible. Also, if that driver is in a drunken stupor, avoid direct engagement as much as possible and try to get other eyewitnesses to add a statement e.g. other drivers, or tow car person.

2. Texting and GPS-ing While Driving

Did you know road inattentiveness is the number one cause of traffic casualties in Singapore? That’s why texting while driving is now illegal. It is also illegal to be holding any kind of mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle.

Failure to pay attention to the road isn’t just limited to texting or calling; it could also be the case of a blur sotong being too engrossed with the GPS. In short, it's illegal to be using a mobile device while your vehicle is in motion, AND you're holding the mobile device, AND engaging in any function of the mobile device.

Penalties for using your phone while driving

The penalty is up to $1,000 in fines and imprisonment of up to 6 months, but really it depends on the severity of damage you've caused.

Wait, can I then use my phone when my car is stopped at the red light?

Technically, your car is not in motion, so it's not a traffic offence to use your phone at the red light. However, you may be so distracted that you missed the green light, and if caught, you may be liable for obstruction of traffic or driving without reasonable consideration of other users. If you really have to take the call, then do it before or after you drive, or use a hands-free accessory.

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

NOT APPLICABLE if you were using your phone while driving. If you were to get hit by another driver who was using his phone, it's also hard to prove that he was in fact using his phone. So your best bet is to rely on surrounding cameras or your own to prove that it was his fault, if you want to make a claim against him.

3. Red Light Dashing

Amber is a warning sign for drivers to slow down and stop, yet some drivers see it as a chance for them to speed up and cross. This can be extremely dangerous because there might be crossing pedestrians or cars. It might save you a few minutes when you’re late for an important date, but at what cost? Remember: Better late than never.

And if increasing the penalty for traffic offences like this one does not deter you from driving recklessly, perhaps it's best to stay off the roads.

Penalties for beating the red light

The penalty for beating a red light is 12 demerit points and a fine of $400. And if you're caught for reckless driving, that's another 12 points. So if you're caught beating two red lights in a night, you'll have gotten 24 demerit points and have your license suspended.

If you're caught for reckless or dangerous driving and the resulting accident is so severe, it can be an immediate suspension of your license and possibly a jail term. So please stop at the amber lights.

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

NOT APPLICABLE if you beat the red light. There's no excuses for beating the red light, and you might even be endangering other cars or pedestrians on the road. If you're an unfortunate victim, you'll most likely be able to make a claim, but you better hope that you're alive and well.

4. Wet Weather

In wet weather conditions, the roads are extra slippery and visibility might be poor. If slowing down isn't exactly in your dictionary, you might find yourself skidding and slamming into the neighbouring cars. No matter how awesome your car’s anti-braking system is, it pays to be safe and just go a little slower when it pours.

Penalties for driving fast in the rain

There isn't actually a penalty for driving fast in the rain, although the usual speeding and dangerous driving penalties still apply. Considering that most cars will be already slowing down, you should too.

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

IT DEPENDS how you got into the accident. Generally, you should be increasing your braking distance when roads are slippery and visibility is poor. So if you still slam into the car in front, or if you get into a chain accident in the rainy weather, make sure you try to get all video evidence to show that you took all measures to avoid an accident, if you want to successfully make a claim.

5. Speeding

The PIE (or any other expressways or roads for that matter) is not the place for you to play Vin Diesel and reenact the scenes from Fast & Furious. First of all, your recklessness is endangering the lives of all the motorists sharing the roads with you. Second, you can lose your licenses if you accumulate 24 demerit points.

Penalties for speeding

The penalty for speeding varies on how much over the speed limit you were caught. If you exceed the speed limit by 1km/h to 40km/h, the fine ranges from $130 to $240, with a penalty of between 4 and 10 demerit points.

However, if you exceed the speed limit by more than 40km/h, it can be a straight suspension of your license with possible imprisonment not just for speeding, but also for other reasons like reckless driving, and driving without consideration for other road users.

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

If you're not excessively speeding, you might still be able to make a claim if you can justify that the accident was not due to your fault. There'll be no excuses if you're speedingly excessively. If you get into an accident with a speeding driver, try to get all video evidence from your car or surrounding street cameras to support your case for a claim.

Traffic accident VS Car insurance

6. Not Signalling When Changing Lanes

Changing lanes is just a simple matter of signalling, checking the mirrors and your blind spot, and then making the switch. Some drivers prefer to skip all the hassle and meander across lanes.

Accidents could also arise because a driver forgets to check his blind spot and relying just on the mirrors. Signalling is not meant for yourself, but for other drivers to be aware of your intentions, so even if you forget to check your blind spot, he might have watched out for you because your signal light is on.

Penalties for failing to signal when you change lanes

The penalty is a $70 fine and a warning. And sometimes it can be harsh because you might have just made a left turn and you need to filter to the right-most lane quickly. Nevertheless, try to signal your intentions as best as possible and you should be fine.

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

NOT APPLICABLE if you were shown to have failed to signal while changing lanes. If you get into an accident and the other party has video evidence that you did not drive safely and that you failed to signal, the odds are against you. Similarly, if another driver fails to see you on the blindside, cuts into your lane and causes an accident, you should try to describe the situation and show the point of impact to make your case (if you do not have an in-car camera).

7. Road Bullies

From what we’ve observed, Singapore has a lot of angry drivers and road courtesy is one area that can be vastly improved. Whether you’re a victim or a road bully, take the high road and get on with your life. Is it really worth going through all the rage and frustrations and end up incurring financial and physical costs from an accident?

Penalties for road aggression

There isn't exactly a penalty for road aggression, but you probably would have seen some videos shared online that featured reckless driving. This type of self-policing is the rage these days, and you should try to avoid being caught in one of these videos. 

Also, if you're found to be driving without due care and consideration for other road users, you can be fined up to $1,000 and jailed up to 6 months. 

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

IT DEPENDS. If you're the aggressor and there's ample video evidence, you probably cannot make any claims. Likewise, if you're at the receiving end of a road bully, you better hope that your in-car camera is working.

8. Confusing Roads

It takes two hands to clap. Human misjudgment causes car accidents, but so does badly demarcated reroutes. And roundabouts. Sharp bends. All these are made even worse during night driving when visibility is significantly reduced.

Consider taking an alternative route if you learn about roadworks or tree pruning on the radio. Refresh your right of way rules. Slow down before a steep curve. Hasn’t anyone told you it’s always better to be safe?

Penalties for driving in a confused manner

There isn't a penalty for driving in a confused manner. It may be because of the driver, but may also be because of a poorly-designed road. Slow down, give way, and try to be more understanding when it comes to navigating these uncertain roads; everyone just wants to get home at the end of the day.

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

IT DEPENDS. Sometimes it's no one's fault at all for accidents. In these cases, try to illustrate the full situation and give a thorough statement when making your insurance claims. The clearer the picture, with supporting evidence, the better your chances of successfully making a claim.

9. Car Defects

Automotive technology has never been more impressive. Just check out our list of coolest high tech cars and you’ll understand. However, technology isn’t perfect. We’ve seen the motoring industry go abuzz over the massive car recalls because of defective airbags. Car defects are something out of your control, but you should still do your part on things you can control, like maintaining your brake fluids. 

Penalties for driving with a faulty car

It's illegal to drive a deregistered vehicle e.g. you deregister it after the COE expires at the end of 10 years. But if the car is certified to be on the road, and you do not know that there is a defect, then it's not entirely your fault.

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

IT DEPENDS. If the car is faulty and is too dangerous to be driven, you should stop it at the side of the road and call for a tow truck. If you're caught completely unaware, and somehow the wheel takes over by itself, or if the brake malfunctions, these can still be claimed. However, the chances of these happening are rare, considering that all cars in Singapore have to pass annual inspections to ensure that they're safe for driving on the roads.

10. Irresponsible Pedestrians

Sometimes, the crowds can be ignorant of the traffic. Especially in busy areas like Orchard Road, a mass of crazed pedestrians crossing the road without giving a damn about their own lives is not surprising. Even in the quiet heartlands, you just might witness one distracted pedestrian crossing the traffic junction when the pedestrian light is red.

Penalties for causing injuries to irresponsible pedestrians

There aren't strict penalties especially if you're not at fault. Nevertheless, you'll be guilt-stricken for life, and it's probably something you want to avoid as much as possible. 

Insurance cover if you were to get into an accident

Considering that most Singaporeans are safe, and they will not jump onto your bonnet to claim that you knocked into them, you'll probably not run into situations if you're a safe driver. Nevertheless, if you happen to collide with an irresponsible pedestrian, stop and make sure he's ok, and make to make the necessary reports if he's not.

The worst thing that can happen is that you drive off and allow yourself to be classified as a hit and run. There'll be no way you can win the case and he can probably make all the medical claims against you then.

What car insurance should I get?

In Singapore, it's mandatory for car owners to insure their car with car insurance.

Car insurance coverage can differ a lot, depending whether you get one that covers third-party liability or a comprehensive one. The former means that you'll be covered should you cause damage to someone's car and he makes a claim against you. When that happens, the insurance will cover for the repair and medical costs, but you can also expect your premiums to go up. However, you'll not be covered should you suffer accidental damage to your own car or accidental body injuries because of a traffic accident.

In comparison, a comprehensive car insurance covers for your own car and medical expenses (in the form of Personal Accident cover), so you should definitely get a comprehensive plan if you're not the best of drivers. 

As you can probably tell, whether you can successfully make a claim from your car insurance depends on who caused the accident, and whether you can get supporting evidence to show that you've driven safely and took all reasonable steps to prevent any accidents. So do your regular car maintenance, make sure your in-car camera is working, and drive in a calm and cool manner.

 

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