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Singapore - Driving

Cars are driven on the left side of the road in Singapore, a leftover vestige of the country’s past with the British Empire. Most people do rely on public transportation but car ownership in Singapore is still high with around 1 car per 8 people.

To qualify for a license, drivers must be 18 years of age or older. Once they pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT), drivers have to apply for a Provisional Driving License (PDL). This lasts for six months and then they are able to take the practical driving test. Foreigners can convert their license by taking only the theory test, as long as they do it within the first year. Senior citizens and permanent residents do not have to renew their driver’s license. It is valid until the age of 65. After that, a medical check-up every three years is required.

Singapore does have a points system called the Driver Improvement Points System (DIPS). In this system, demerit points are added to the driver's record to keep them from breaking road-rules. If someone accumulates twenty-four demerit points in a two year time period, they will be suspended from driving for three months. If they’ve been suspended before, they can only be allowed to accumulate less than twelve demerit points in a period of twelve months. Drivers are given points for certain road-rules infringements such as not fastening their seat belts and speeding, amongst other things.

As mentioned above, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in Singapore implemented an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) scheme. This is meant to keep traffic congestion from occurring during peak travel times. In this scheme, electronic gantries are placed over the road at designated locations and vehicles are equipped with an In-Vehicle Unit (IU). This is a rectangular device that is pasted on the car’s front windscreen and deducts the toll price from a CashCard. If the CashCard isn’t in the device, you are breaking the law. It is free to travel during non-peak driving times.

Road signs in Singapore look similar to those in the United Kingdom. Mandatory regulative signs, for instance, are blue circles while warning signs are red. However, you will notice that a local typeface is used and that black-on-yellow 'curve alignment markers' delineate sharp turns. Signs at road works are black-on-red-orange with diamond and rectangular shaped.

Most of the tunnels, bridges, roads, and roundabouts are marked with the road’s name. In addition, expressways are named rather than numbered. Some of the road signs abbreviate the full name of the expressway into three representative alphabets, like ECP for East Coast Parkway.

Most of the road signs are in English even though the names themselves might be Malay in origin. "Jalan" can be used for "Road" and "Lorong used for "Lane". There are also multilingual road signs in places such as Little India and Chinatown.

It is illegal to turn left during a red light since people drive on the left side of the road in Singapore. However, if there is a 'Left Turn On Red' sign then this rule does not apply. It is legal to turn right on red, though, if the oncoming lane is clear.

It is illegal to drive using a hand-held cell phone. Drinking and driving is illegal as well. The alcohol intoxication limit is currently 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 milliliters of breath.

A red license plate indicates that the vehicle may be driven only during off peak times unless a daily fee is paid. The off peak times are from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and all day on Saturdays and Sundays. These license plates cost less than the standard ones. Standard ones are black with silver or white lettering or have a white front and yellow rear.

For up-to-date traffic conditions, including travel calculators and traffic news, you can visit One Motor at http://www.onemotoring.com.sg/publish/onemotoring/en/on_the_roads/traffic_news.html.

Fuel costs can vary, almost on a daily basis. Prices can jump as much as 10 cents overnight or in the middle of the day. Petrol Watch has been created to help motorists assist one another in finding the cheapest fuel costs and to share tips with one another on how to keep prices down: http://www.petrolwatch.com.sg

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