Singapore - Driving Tips
In Singapore you drive on the left and traffic laws are the same as in Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
There is a good network of expressways and usually the traffic flows smoothly except when an accident blocks a lane or there is torrential rain (fairly much a daily occurrence). On Saturday the Orchard Road downtown shopping area becomes very congested and car parking spaces are hard to find. Take a taxi or use public transport.
Speed limits are 90 km/h on expressways and 60 km/h on other roads (unless otherwise signposted).
The Kiasu effect -The Singapore road environment is an interesting mix of its British colonial heritage and some Chinese characteristics. Kiasu is a Hokkien (Chinese dialect) word meaning ‘afraid that others will get advantage over you – even when it doesn’t matter in the slightest’. So drivers are generally obeying the road rules (the British heritage), but at the same time they can be pretty mean. If you are trying to change lanes don’t assume that other drivers will leave a gap for you or let you in!Special Tips
ERP (Electronic Road Pricing)
Vehicles pay a toll to enter the Central Business District (CBD) and on some other high-density roads. You enter an ERP zone through an overhead gantry. Signs display the current toll. The correct toll fee is automatically deducted from the CashCard inserted into an In-Vehicle Unit (IU) in your car. The toll fee changes depending on the time of day. A CashCard is a stored-value smart card that can be purchased from the following places:
- Banks – branches of DBS, PosBank, OCBC or UOB
- Service (petrol or gas) stations- Esso or Mobile
- 7-Eleven convenience stores
CashCards can be topped up at ATMs at the above banks and at service stations. They can be topped up using cash at some 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Parking is expensive (there is hardly any free parking) and there are a myriad ways to pay.
This parking payment system is becoming the norm in Singapore and works in the same way as the ERP (see above). As you leave the car park you should drive slowly through the gantry. The parking fee is automatically deducted from the CashCard in your car’s IU reader.
In some car parks you will have to insert the CashCard into a machine at the entry and exit gates.
Suntec City (Singapore’s largest shopping mall) has TeleParking where drivers use their mobile phone to pay for parking. For information on Teleparking go to www.telemoneyworld.com
This system applies in a lot of parking areas outside of the city centre. You must display a pre-paid parking coupon on the dashboard of your car. The parking rates are displayed on a sign in the parking area. You can purchase the coupons from service stations, 7-eleven stores, newspaper stands and post offices. They come in three denominations- 50 cents, $1 and $2. You have to punch out the perforated tab on the coupon to indicate how much parking time you have purchased and punch out the tabs for the year, month and date.
Singapore has a demerits system and stiff monetary fines for traffic offences. Driving after consuming alcohol is definitely discouraged. For the first drink driving offence you can be fined S$1,000-5,000 or jailed for up to six months. A second offence fine can be up to S$30,000 and up to 10 years in jail. In either case, you can lose your driving license for up to one year.
Before you take to the roads check out the names (and abbreviations) for major highways. For example:
- PIE Pan-Island Expressway
- ECP East Coast Parkway
- CTE Central Expressway
Major roads other than the highways can sometimes change their names. Going away from the city centre, Havelock Road becomes Ganges Avenue which becomes Alexandra Road all within a few kilometres.
Be careful when you are looking for a particular street
name. For example, don’t get confused between Upper Thomson Road, Thomson
Green, Thomson Hill, Thomson Hills Drive, Thomson Walk and Thomson Terrace
which are all in the same area.