Fewer traffic accidents in 2020 due to quieter roads in S'pore, elderly and motorcyclists still a concern

Half of the total pedestrian deaths were the result of jaywalking, said the police on Feb 10 in its annual road traffic situation report.
Half of the total pedestrian deaths were the result of jaywalking, said the police on Feb 10 in its annual road traffic situation report.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE -  The overall number of traffic accidents last year fell due to quieter roads during the Covid-19 pandemic, though there were more cases of speeding and fatal drink-driving accidents.

Elderly pedestrians and motorcyclists remain a concern, said the police on Wednesday (Feb 10) in its annual road traffic situation report.

Although the number of accidents involving these two groups decreased last year from 2019, they continue to “account for a disproportionate number of accidents resulting in injuries or deaths”, added  the police.

The overall number of fatalities on the road dropped to a record low of 85 people, a 28 per cent fall from the 118  in 2019.

Accidents resulting in injuries decreased by 29 per cent to 5,473 cases, from 7,705 cases in 2019.

Fewer motorists ran red lights last year, with such violations falling 16.4 per cent to 50,725, down from 60,693 the year before. 

The temporary closure of nightlife establishments and drinking holes as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 could also have contributed to a fall in drink-driving cases.

The police said drink-driving arrests fell by 24.2 per cent - 1,507 drivers were nabbed last year, compared with 1,987 the year before.

But fatal drink-driving accidents went up. There were 13 fatalities recorded last year, up from seven in 2019. 

“The police adopts a tough enforcement stance towards irresponsible drinking behaviour. If grievous hurt or death is caused, motorists may face imprisonment and disqualification from driving.”

More motorists were also caught speeding. There were 758 speeding-related accidents last year, up from 735 in 2019.

“Speed cameras are deployed islandwide with conspicuous warning signages to alert motorists to the cameras and remind them to slow down,” said the police.

“The traffic police also collaborates with the Land Transport Authority to display messages on their electronic boards along expressways and major roads to remind motorists not to speed.” 

Fifteen of the 18 pedestrian deaths last year were seniors above the age of 60, said the police. They made up 83 per cent of the total pedestrian deaths, up from nearly 70 per cent in 2019. 

But the number of traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians fell from 321 in 2019 to 234 last year. 

The number of fatalities involving seniors also fell from 27 in 2019 to 15 last year. Half of these deaths were the result of jaywalking, said the police.

“I think they are a really vulnerable group, because as they get older, their reflexes are slower,” said Traffic Police Commander Gerald Lim. “(Through our engagement efforts), we hope to convince them to use the pedestrian crossing, for example, rather than dash across the road.”

Recognising that the  deterioration of eye health may lead to impaired vision and affect the safety of road users, the traffic police  and the Singapore Road Safety Council have partnered with Singapore Optometric Association to develop an eye care kit. 

The kit - which will be distributed to the elderly - includes four tests, which check peripheral vision as well as the ability to distinguish details and colour contrasts. 

Motorcyclists also continued to be a cause of concern, as they accounted for 63 per cent of the total number of fatal accidents.

This is even though the number of accidents involving motorcyclists that resulted in injures decreased by almost 30 per cent last year, falling to 3,128 from 4,463 in 2019.

Correction note: An earlier version of this article wrongly attributed a quote to Superintendent Jimmy Law, when it should be to Traffic Police Commander Gerald Lim. We are sorry for the error.