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Tweaks to routes used by heavy vehicles

Published on Jan 31, 2013 10:18 AM

MP BAEY Yam Keng will meet Land Transport Authority (LTA) officers by tomorrow to tweak the routes used by heavy vehicles in largely residential Tampines.

The aim is for these drivers to avoid areas with high pedestrian traffic and schools.

"Pedestrian safety should be the first priority as it is a residential area... it should not be up to the driver to look out for the shortest route," said Mr Baey, an MP for Tampines GRC.

While he admits that a new route could mean a longer trip to construction sites, he said the heavy vehicles will also be diverted to "less populated and quieter" areas.

The move to enhance safety comes in the wake of an accident on Monday that involved a cement mixer and killed two brothers at the junction of Tampines Avenue 9 and Tampines Street 45.

The incident is the second fatal one in the last 13 months at the junction. In December 2011, a vehicle driven by a 22-year-old unlicensed driver hit a pedestrian.

The police said accidents involving heavy vehicles accounted for about 3per cent of the total number of accidents in the last three years.

The top causes are failure to keep a lookout for other road users, not giving way to traffic with the right of way and losing control of the vehicle, a spokesman said, in response to queries from The Straits Times.

He added that the Traffic Police have conducted regular operations to curb dangerous driving behaviour.

The LTA said the junction at which Monday's accident happened already has signalised pedestrian crossings and railings to deter jaywalking.

A spokesman said it is reviewing the circumstances of the accident and evaluating if more measures are needed to boost safety.

Together with the Housing Board, it is working closely with the MP to review the routes taken by heavy vehicles in the constituency, the spokesman added.

Monday's tragedy has also put the spotlight on those driving such vehicles. Contractor K. C. Lee says drivers - mostly aged between 30 and 60 - can make between $50 and $95 per trip.

"They are looking to just meet the targets and make as much money as possible so they will want to find the fastest route," he added. A driver can chalk up at least five trips in a 12-hour shift, raking in up to $475 a day.

Younger and less-experienced ones are also behind the steering wheel. "There's a resource crunch and there is high demand. So, even if they are not that experienced, we have to take them," said Mr Or Toh Wat, group managing director of construction firm OKP Holdings.

Drivers must have at least a Class 4 licence to operate vehicles with an unladen weight of between 2,500kg and 7,250kg.