Safe driving is no accident

HEARTBREAK: This grief-stricken woman is believed to be the mother of two young boys who were killed when their bicycle was involved in a collision with a cement truck while crossing a traffic-light junction in Tampines in January.


    Dec 27, 2013

    Safe driving is no accident

    IT IS every parent's worst nightmare - losing your children in an accident.

    One mother faced her worst fear on Sunday when her three-year-old toddler was run over by a bus while the family was attending the funeral of a relative.

    Earlier this year, another mother lost both her sons, aged seven and 13, when their bicycle was involved in a collision with a cement truck in Tampines.

    I have a son, six, and a daughter, three. And every time I read about another accident like the ones above, I wonder, what if it happened to my kids?

    The driver in the Tampines incident may have had a rough night. Perhaps he was feeling the effects of working overtime to take care of his family. His might have been a momentary lapse of concentration. Or he could have been distracted by something on the radio.

    I've been there. So have you. That's why they call it an "accident". Nobody wants it to happen. But when does an accident cross the line into something more malicious?

    When speed is involved. Speed separates a fender-bender from a fatality. It is basic science - lower speed equals more reaction time for drivers/pedestrians/cyclists, plus lower force of impact. If everyone were to keep to the speed limit, the roads would be a lot safer, even if the number of accidents remains the same.

    But some drivers do not seem to care. Despite several high-profile tragic cases resulting from speeding, the number of those caught speeding continues to rise.

    A total of 244,806 speeding violations were recorded last year, up from 225,550 in 2011. The number is even scarier when it comes to heavy vehicles. Traffic Police figures show that close to 1,800 heavy vehicles, such as lorries, tipper trucks and cement mixers, were caught speeding in the first six months of the year. This is three times higher than that for the same period last year.

    We have to take action against ignorant heavy-vehicle drivers. We also need to educate vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists on how to be safe around such big vehicles, with their huge blind spots.

    To make matters worse, drink driving is also on the rise. More than 2,300 motorists were arrested for drink driving in the first nine months of this year, which is a 9 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

    You don't "accidentally" find yourself travelling at 30kmh above the speed limit, nor do you "accidentally" swallow five shots of tequila before getting behind the wheel.

    I am no saint. I've had my share of speeding tickets, collected demerit points and sent on my way. And I've walked away thinking, "It was just minor speeding. Not more than 20kmh over."

    Seeing the trail of destruction and tragedy that can be caused by even "minor speeding" these few years, I have eased up on my right foot. And that's no accident.