The DIPS was introduced 30 years ago to make motorists adopt safer driving habits
Driving Scorecard PHOTO: TORQUE

In March 1983, the Traffic Police replaced the PDS (Points Demerit System) with the DIPS (Driver Improvement Points System). Under the former, stricter scheme, Singaporean motorists who accumulated 12 demerit points in a year would have their driving licences revoked. Under
DIPS, however, a driver would only lose his licence if he racked up 24 points within two years. New drivers who'd just passed their driving test, on the other hand, still had to abide by "PDS rules" - their licences would
be revoked if they amassed more than 12 demerit points within 12 months.

But the leniency of DIPS compared to PDS soon attracted criticism. The AAS (Automobile Association of Singapore), for one, was concerned that it might cause some good drivers to go bad, since they had more points to "play" around with.

Singapore's Traffic Police (TP), however, hoped that the doubling of the points and allotted time period would not only give some allowance to motorists who might have unintentionally committed traffic offences, but also persuade repeat offenders to "self-correct" before it was too late.

In any case, TP made the penalties for certain offences even stiffer under DIPS – for example, beating the red light used to mean a $150 fine (for light vehicles) and six demerit points, but these were raised to $200 and 12 demerit points respectively after the DIPS was amended in 2000. The scheme had been extended to foreigners the year before, creating a
fairer playing fi eld for every motorist who uses our roads regularly.

To incentivise motorists to practise good driving habits, any demerit points accumulated under the DIPS scheme will be erased if the driver stays "clean" for the 12 months following his last offence. Any
suspensions, too, would be wiped off his driving record if he remains offence-free for two years from the time his licence was suspended. Speaking of which, if your driving suspension is for a year or longer,
you'll have to earn it back later on by passing the theory and practical exams all over again.

The best incentive by far is the Certificate of Merit, given to every
motorist who maintains a clean driving record for three years straight. This reward entitles him to a five per cent discount on his car insurance premium upon renewal, in addition to any No-Claims bonus, provided his insurer participates in this scheme and he didn't file any policy claims during the last three years.