Fewer fatal traffic accidents in first quarter

But closer attention will be given to higher-risk groups: elderly, m-cyclists

Fewer people died in traffic accidents in the first three months of this year, but the Traffic Police will pay closer attention to the two most vulnerable groups - motorcyclists and elderly pedestrians.

Latest Traffic Police figures show that road accidents resulting in injury rose by 11.5 per cent to 2,000 cases in the first quarter of the year, although fatal accidents dipped 7 per cent to 40.

Fatal motorcycle accidents fell by 26 per cent to 20. But there were 1,061 injury accidents involving motorcycles, up 15 per cent from the same period last year. The numbers highlight how motorcycle riders remain at risk.

There were 39 injury-related accidents involving elderly pedestrians, up from 38 previously. Fatal accidents involving this group dipped to four, from five in the same period last year.

Traffic Police Commander Sam Tee told The Straits Times that he is determined to improve these statistics.

One idea being considered is having driving and riding simulators in driving schools, allowing learners to appreciate the challenges faced by motorbike riders, and to understand why riders may not always be visible to drivers.

The Traffic Police will step up campaigns to highlight the vulnerability of elderly pedestrians, who may not be as alert and who also take longer to cross the road.

Commander Tee called the Land Transport Authority's Silver Zone for elderly pedestrians an "excellent initiative".

With features like lower speed limits, more warning signs, new road markings and raised zebra crossings, Silver Zones will be set up in estates with a high concentration of elderly residents.

The plan is to have them in 35 locations by 2020, up from the two today in Bukit Merah View and Jurong West Street 52.

Commander Tee said he is meeting transport companies that own fleets of trucks, to persuade them to consider moving away from trip-based incentive schemes, in order to ease the pressure on drivers to drive fast and make as many trips as possible.

"We are stepping up enforcement and the risk for these companies is quite high, because we know the routes they ply," he said.

"Once a driver is disqualified from driving, (the companies) will have downtime because it is not so easy to find another in the current labour situation."

Asked why the Traffic Police have not mandated new tamper-proof speed limiters for large vehicles, he said: "As far as we know, there is no speed limiter that is completely tamper-proof. Some are just more difficult to tamper with than others."

There were 765 injury accidents involving heavy vehicles throughout last year, down slightly from 773 in 2013. But fatal accidents involving these vehicles rose from 43 in 2013 to 44 last year. Figures for the first quarter of this year were not yet available.

christan@sph.com.sg