And that got me thinking about this issue of Singaporean driving standards. Are we really that bad in general, or was my experience a rare sighting?
Intuitively, I gravitated towards the former opinion. Singapore drivers are bad. After all, not a day goes by without a new thread on Mycarforum lamenting an inconsiderate or kayu or reckless driver. Speak to your friends and family who drive and you will frequently encounter horror stories about the Singapore driver and his/her antics on the road. From such anecdotal evidence alone, the natural conclusion is that we are a nation of bad drivers.
But after thinking and exploring the issue further, I realized that we probably aren't as bad as we think.
For one, the laws of statistics will tell us that most people will be average. Distribution usually follows a bell-shaped curve. And that suggests that most of us on the road should, well, be average. That is unless, somehow, that the distribution of drivers in Singapore is drastically skewed.
And that is pretty unlikely. After all, drivers do have to pass a driving test. And despite its flaws, it does ensure a minimum level of proficiency. What are the odds that the bulk of the drivers passing the test are bad? Remember, the numbers of bad drivers have to be pretty significant to skew the distribution curve heavily! I would say that it is highly unlikely.
So why the discrepancy with theory and what we experience?
My explanation is that with the sheer numbers of motorists on the road each day and the sheer amount of mileage that we clock; it is inevitable that we will encounter quite a few of those black sheep motorists over time. And such experiences stick with us because they are frustrating or amusing (in my case). Such stories also get passed around a lot more often because they make for more interesting reads. Would anyone of you be interested to hear a story about how a driver was courteous and filtered left when he spotted a faster car coming from the back? Maybe; but it sure wouldn't generate as much discussion as a story about a driver who persisted in hogging the right lane at 75km/h with a clear road ahead. And because such incidents create a larger impact, we instinctively form an opinion that Singapore drivers are bad. The next time we encounter a bad driver, we place greater emphasis on it and remember it because of confirmation bias. This is something like a cycle and eventually, most of us drive around thinking that others on the road are lousy drivers.
Not convinced. Well, let's end off by looking at it from another perspective. How many of you think you are excellent or at least above average drivers? If you all are above average and I am too; then where have all the bad drivers gone?