Road users were aghast to see an excavator, being transported on a trailer, crash into an overhead pedestrian bridge in Balestier Road nine days ago. Surely those responsible ought to have been on guard given the height of the equipment and its passage along public roads. Yet the excavator's arm was not fully retracted, according to the authorities. The vehicle was driven at a speed that caused a loud collision, shook the pedestrian bridge and created a shower of debris.
Unfortunately, such incidents have an all too familiar ring to them. In a number of past cases, calamity struck similarly when inadequate attention was paid to height limits. Twenty years ago, a rubbish truck was left dangling in mid-air, incredibly tilted at a 45-degree angle, after crashing into an overhead bridge in Clementi.
While no one was injured in the latest accident, the potential for serious harm ought to spur transport operators to devise a zero-error protocol for tall vehicles. A police escort is required for the movement of only vehicles exceeding the height of 4.5m. But those below this limit could also pose risks if safeguards are not in place. At Balestier, a single reckless act led to a road closure, the removal of the bridge's beams for safety reasons, and the diversion of a number of bus services. Considerable inconvenience - not to mention lives being at risk - was thus suffered by those who use this busy road.
Drivers must be trained in essential safety procedures and armed with electronic sensors and alarms. Routes must be carefully planned and if drivers get disoriented or feel pressured by schedules, there should be standard procedures to ensure no risks are taken on the road. Simply ploughing on to meet deadlines, regardless of the consequences, ought to be deterred by tougher penalties that should also apply to those with oversight of potentially hazardous heavy vehicles.