Too many accidents involving PMDs

As a family physician practising in the community, I have seen an increasing number of accidents - among my patients and within my personal circle - involving personal mobility devices (PMDs).

Each accident is one too many. This is especially so for the vulnerable such as children and the elderly, who might have slower reflexes and impaired cognition.

Legislation to keep PMDs off the roads does not resolve the issue of accidents on pavements. The accidents reported in the news are only the tip of the iceberg, as I believe many incidents go unreported.

Often, the culprit does not apologise or stop to help the injured pedestrian. I have seen riders of PMDs speeding with wanton disregard for the safety of pedestrians.

Preventing accidents is far better than treating injuries after they have occurred. It is not just the physical injuries that need treatment - the psychological and emotional impact such accidents have on victims is significant, such as the fear of walking on pavements for fear of being hit by PMDs.

European cities such as Copenhagen have a strong cycling culture. They have the necessary infrastructure, such as designated and well-demarcated bicycle lanes on pavements, while roads for cyclists are easily found.

Only when such infrastructure is commonplace in Singapore and coupled with intensive societal education, should bicycles and other PMDs be considered safe alternative modes of transport. Otherwise, it seems premature to actively promote them.

Another issue in relation to creating a safe environment for the vulnerable is the time given to cross pedestrian crossings - not all traffic lights are equipped with the facility to allow senior citizens to tap their ez-link card to extend the crossing time. Many seniors often struggle to cross the road in time and some fall when they try to rush.

As our population is rapidly ageing, we need to have the appropriate infrastructure to support it. I hope the authorities will look into these issues with a greater sense of urgency.

Ruth Zheng Mingli (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2018, with the headline 'Too many accidents involving PMDs'. Print Edition | Subscribe