Probability of getting in a car accident in Singapore

by Value Penguin
Singapore is known for its law abiding citizens and high safety standards. But are Singaporeans also safe drivers? How safe is it to drive in Singapore, and how does driving in Singapore compare with other countries? The ValuePenguin team took a look at official traffic accident statistics from Singapore and other countries around the world to answer this question.

Probability of Getting in A Car Accident in Singapore is Decreasing

We found that the the roads in Singapore have become safer over the last few years. First, the total number of accidents resulting in injury or death has decreased by 4.4% since 2010. More importantly, the likelihood of getting in a car accident has decreased even more: the number of accidents resulting in injury or death per motor vehicle has decreased by 5.5%, from 931 out of every 100,000 vehicles in 2010 to 880 out of every 100,000 vehicles in 2016. Looking at these statistics alone, driving safety in Singapore has shown moderate improvement.
In the area of road fatalities, Singapore has experienced an even bigger improvement. There has been a significant decline since 2010 in the number of car accidents that result in fatalities. From 2010 to 2016, the number of fatal accidents dropped from 188 to 140 annually, with the number of fatalities dropping from 193 to 141. In 2016, there were only 14.7 deaths per 100,000 motor vehicles, down 27.8% from 2010’s 20.4 deaths per 100,000 motor vehicles.

YearTotal Motor Vehicle PopulationAccidents resulting in CasualtiesFatal AccidentsFatality Rate per 100,000 persons

Singapore is More Dangerous than its Peers Around the Globe

While our research indicates that road safety in Singapore is improving over time, our findings also suggest a possibility that in reality, fatal car accidents occur with higher frequency here than public perception. In fact, drivers in Singapore may actually be more dangerous than drivers in other high-wealth countries such as the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Road Fatalities Per Capita Is Deceiving

On the surface, Singaporeans may seem to be safer drivers than their counterparts in other developed countries. For instance, Singapore has among the lowest road mortality rates per capita in the entire world. Based on our analysis of official data issued by the Singapore Traffic Police and statistics compiled by the World Health Organization, we found that Singapore had the 6th least number of road accident-caused fatalities per capita out of the 178 countries assessed for the year of 2013, reporting only 2.96 fatalities per 100,000 people. The only countries that could boast fewer fatalities per capita in 2013 were Monaco (0), the Federated States of Micronesia (1.9), Sweden (2.8), the United Kingdom (2.9), and Kiribati (2.9). Since 2013, Singapore’s road mortality rate per capita has continued to decline, as there were only 2.51 road fatalities per 100,000 persons in 2016.

This graph contrasts Singapore's road mortality rate per capita with other major countries'.

Comparing the number of fatalities caused by road accidents per 100,000 people by country in 2013

Accidents per motor vehicle shows the true picture

However, while road fatalities per capita in Singapore is very low, our research suggests that Singapore is not the paragon of road safety frequently-cited statistics indicate; rather, it is actually more dangerous to drive in Singapore than many other well-developed countries. For example, we found that road fatalities per vehicle on the road is actually relatively high. In 2016, there were 14.8 fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles. While this is down from 20.4 fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles in 2010, it is nonetheless significant that the fatality rate per vehicle is so much higher than the fatality rate per capita.
By using this measure, Singapore contrasts unfavorably to countries like the United States, Japan, Germany, Australia, and many other countries that Singapore outperformed on the basis of road mortality per capita.*

This graph contrasts Singapore's road mortality rate per vehicle population with other major countries'.

Comparing the number of fatalities caused by road accidents per 100,000 motor vehicles by country in 2015

Note that for these other countries, their performance on the basis of road mortality per capita and road mortality per vehicle do not significantly differ. This discrepancy may be explained in part by the fact that compared to many highly developed countries, a significantly lower percentage of Singapore’s population actually owns a car, while a higher percentage utilize public transit. As of 2013, an estimated 42% of Singapore households owned a car. This stands in stark contrast to high level of car ownerships in other developed countries. Thus, this large portion of the population in Singapore is comparatively infrequently exposed to the risks of travel by motor vehicle, and their likelihood of getting into a car accident is much lower.

CountryPercent of Households that Own a Car in 2014
Singapore42% (2013)
United States88%
United Kingdom74%

As a result, the per capita basis for measuring road safety paints a misleading picture of how safe it actually is to travel by car in Singapore. Instead, driving Singaporeans should consider the number of car accidents and fatalities per vehicle to be a more accurate reflection of road safety.

Probability of Car Accidents Correlate with Car Insurance Premiums

Interestingly, it seems that people in countries where traffic accidents are more common may tend to pay more for their car insurance. To see if there’s any correlation between dangerousness of roads with costs of car insurance, we compared insurance premium prices in the United States, Korea, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. To approximate the amount of money someone would need to spend on their car insurance relative to their resources, we compared each country’s average car insurance premium as a percentage of GDP per capita.
Based on this measure, premiums are highest as a percentage of GDP per capita in Hong Kong, which our research indicates is the most dangerous of these 5 countries, and cheapest in Australia, the safest of the 5. Car insurance seems to cost about the same amount relative to one’s resources in Singapore and Korea, where traffic fatality rates per car are also fairly similar. Taken together, our findings suggest that that cost of car insurance premiums in each country tends to correlate with the risk of getting into a serious accident there.

This graph compares the cost of car insurance as a percentage of GDP per capita (in USD) in Singapore, Korea, the United States, Hong Kong and Australia. We found that the cost of car insurance in each country tends to correlate with the risk of getting into a serious car accident.

Comparing the cost of car insurance as a percentage of GDP per capita by country


Our findings are based on statistics culled from publicly accessible and official reports and datasets published by the Singapore government (the LTA, Singapore Traffic Police and other sources), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Pew, the United Nations and the World Health Organisation (WHO). We collected data on the number of car accidents, fatal accidents, human population, vehicle population and road mortality rates for countries around the world to analyze trends in the frequency of car accidents from 2010 to 2016. Generally, data culled from international organizations reflect estimates; if interested, information regarding their methodology is available on their websites.Where estimates from international organisations such as the WHO/World Bank differed from data released by the Singapore government, we elected to use the official Singapore figures.
In collecting car insurance quotes, we used the profile of a 30-year-old single male driver with 2 years’ driving experience with a Honda HR-V and 0% NCD. We collected quotes from major insurers in Singapore, Australia, the United States, Korea and Hong Kong. Every effort was made to standardize quotes across the 5 countries surveyed despite variations in the car insurance market in each country.

*The average fatality rate displayed in this graph reflects the mean of the fatality rates per 100,000 vehicles of 42 countries surveyed.
This article was first published on Value, “Probability of Getting in a Car Accident in Singapore

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