With all the stressors in our daily lives, it can be easy to get distracted. Distraction is especially prevalent during our daily commute, when many people take the time to catch up on emails, grab a snack and make plans for the day. Other times, we are anxious to get to our destination and will do anything to get there faster. However, distracted and aggressive driving is a dangerous practice— besides being at higher risk for tickets and costly accidents, you could also risk the lives of the people around you. Beyond the life-threatening ramifications, distracted and reckless driving will also cost you quite a bit. Below, we discuss how defensive driving will not only make you a safer and more confident driver, but also save you hundreds of dollars per year.
Companies Will Reward You
Perhaps one of the most notable rewards for safe driving comes will come from your car insurer. As a safe driver, your NCD should increase every year you don't have an at-fault claim. After 5 years, your 50% NCD discount can get you up to a 57% discount on your car insurance premium, which can easily amount to several hundred dollars saved per year. Additionally, if you have had a demerit-point-free driving record for the past 3 years, you can receive additional discount of around 5% via your Certificate of Merit.
Save On Petrol Costs
If you are prone to speeding, you may be spending more money on petrol than your safe driving peers. In fact, fuel consumption is lowest when you are cruising at a relatively constant speed of around 45km/hour and 75km/hour. However, driving quickly, resorting to sudden braking and frequently changing your speed can decrease the gas mileage by around 20-30%. If erratic driving results in 20% more fuel usage, an average driver in Singapore (16,700 km/year) could save S$500 or more in petrol every year by driving more smoothly and at the proper speed limits.
Avoid Traffic Tickets
Due to the number of traffic laws in Singapore, getting a traffic ticket is relatively easy if you are not paying attention to the road. A ticket can be issued for driving over the speed limit, failing to signal properly, failing to give way or hindering the flow of traffic. However, the consequences of getting a ticket extend far beyond its cost of a few hundred dollars. Your insurance premiums can also increase by hundreds of dollars as you lose your demerit-free discounts and NCD. Lastly, you may also end up paying litigation fees if your traffic violation was severe enough and requires a court appearance (i.e. talking on cell phones, drink driving, driving significantly over the speed limit).
Being a safe driver is especially important when you're an inexperienced driver. This is because a lot of traffic violations occur from actions that new drivers may not know are wrong, such as when to give way at a roundabout, slowing down traffic in a right lane or parking incorrectly. To prevent this, you should read and memorise which driving actions are considered violations. At the same time, mistakes happen and it's impossible to be a perfect driver. If you do get a ticket, you should settle the fine as soon as possible and use it as a learning experience.
Spend Less on Maintenance and Repairs
Driving while distracted means you will be prone to poor handling of your car. While small fender benders are not as serious as car accidents, the cost of constantly sending your car for repairs can add up. In fact, damage to your fender can cost upwards of S$1,200—most of which you will be responsible for yourself due to your car insurance excess. Additionally, you run the risk of overheating your engine, leading to breakdowns and fires when you improperly handle your car. As you drive aggressively, you will wear your car down faster, wreck your transmission and reduce the efficiency of car fluid circulation. This can increase your annual maintenance costs as you will need more things examined.
How to Be a Defensive Driver
Getting rid of distractions is the best way to be a safe driver. You should put away your cell phone, reduce fiddling with your car accessories and pay close attention to the road. You should also watch out for your blind spots by moving your head, as your mirrors may not always show blind spot obstacles. Last, never drink and drive as it considerably decreases cognitive function. If you want to take your driving knowledge a step further, you can sign up for defensive driving courses at several places in Singapore. These courses cost between S$77 and S$309 and cater to both new and experienced drivers. However, considering that safe and defensive drivers end up saving over S$1,000 per year on car related expenses, these courses are well worth the cost.