At the time of rental, you'll need to present a driver's license, which has been valid for at least one year and is in English. The license may not be recognized if it's in another language. Universally recognized International Driving Permits (IDPs) are available from the American or Canadian automobile association, and in the U.K., from the Automobile Association or Royal Automobile Club. These are only valid in conjunction with your regular license; having one may save you from problems with the authorities.
Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) is a system of road pricing based on a pay-as-you-use principle. You car will be fitted with an In-vehicle Unit (IU) into which you slide a stored value CashCard. The minimum value is $20. You'll be charged up to S$2.50 per entry. Electronic readers deduct ERP charges from CashCards—you'll hear a beep. Make sure you use a CashCard and it has sufficient funds, otherwise you'll be fined S$70 for each unpaid entry.
ERP Hotline. 1800/553-5226.
NETs. 6272-0533 for CashCard information. www.nets.com.sg.
Closed-circuit cameras routinely scan the expressways for accidents and, as a result, the police tend to arrive promptly on accident scenes. The Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS) has 24-hour emergency road service. Most car rental companies will also provide you with an emergency number for breakdowns.
Automobile Association of Singapore. 6748-9911. www.aas.com.sg.
Ambulance or Fire. 995.
The most common way to park is with parking coupons, which should be displayed on the dashboard. Denominations of parking coupons are S$0.50, S$1, S$1.80, and S$2 (for overnight parking). Generally, parking rates are S$0.50 per half hour outside the CBD and S$1 per half hour within it. Parking coupons are available from gas stations, post offices, shopping centers, and some shops.
The two other ways of parking—paid parking and stored value CashCards—are practiced at shopping centers and office buildings. You pay for the amount of time your car is parked. Some shopping centers offer a rebate on your parking charges, as do some hotels. Avoid parking in lots marked with red, which belong to office tenants or apartment block residents.
For the most part road conditions are quite good, especially on the expressways. Some streets have fairly deep ditches for drainage and may not be well lit in the evenings. Watch for speed humps, especially in residential streets.
The SBS Transit Guide and an official Singapore map are free at Changi Airport, hotels, and tourist centers. They include the main streets, expressways, border routes, hotels, shopping complexes, and major attractions. Either one will be adequate for driving to the main sites. If you plan on exploring back streets or would feel more confident with a street directory, invest in the street maps available at news kiosks and bookstores. The exhaustive www.streetdirectory.com.sg allows you to search for locations via street address or building name.
Rules of the Road
Driving is on the left-hand side of the road in both Singapore and Malaysia. Parking coupons should be displayed on the dashboard. Seat belts and child seats are mandatory. Head lights must be on between 7 PM and 7 AM. Drunk-driving laws are strict. The legal limit is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.
There are some common road markings that you should be aware of. Yield to oncoming traffic when you see parallel white lines in front of you. Parallel white lines down the center of the road prohibit parking or passing; a single white line prohibits parking at any time on either side. A yellow line by the roadside means no parking 7 AM-7 PM on that side. Parallel yellow lines prohibit parking at all times on that side of the road. Zigzag lines by the side of the road indicate a pedestrian crossing ahead. Painted triangles indicate that you must give way to traffic on a major road ahead.
The speed limit is 50 kph (31 mph) in residential areas and 80 kph (50 mph) on expressways. Speed cameras are installed throughout the island. Fines, which are comparable to those in, say, New York City or Toronto, are electronically issued immediately and delivered by courier. Bus lanes or extreme-left lanes marked by unbroken yellow lines should not be used by cars during the following hours: weekdays 7:30 AM-9:30 AM and 4:30 PM-7 PM, Saturday 7:30 AM-9:30 AM and 11:30 AM-2 PM.
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