Clementi accident: School kids most at risk at 'danger crossing'

Residents recount near misses at junction in Tuesday's fatal accident

The heavy traffic can be hazardous enough. Couple it with numerous parents and children on their way to school and you have a potentially deadly combination.

Residents living near the spot where a woman died after being hit by a bus on Tuesday told The Straits Times that the junction is a particularly dangerous one.

Some spoke of near misses involving children from nearby schools, which include Clementi Primary School and the PAP Community Foundation's Little Wings childcare centre in Clementi Avenue 4.

However, the crossing is not identified under the Land Transport Authority's Black Spot programme, which marks places with a high toll of accidents.

Madam Zhang Huirui, 42, was dragged 5m after being pinned under the SBS double-decker bus during Tuesday morning's accident at the junction of Clementi Avenue 3 and Commonwealth Avenue West.

Between noon and 1pm yesterday, The Straits Times witnessed five to eight parents accompanying their children across the road where the accident happened each time the green man flashed.

"Last Monday in the morning, I saw a Clementi Primary School pupil run along the traffic crossing," said 40-year-old housewife Mae, who goes by one name and has a daughter of seven at the same school.

"He fell down in the middle of the road, close to where the cars were turning.

"Fortunately, they stopped for him."

At least three other parents of Clementi Primary pupils told of similar experiences.

"When the green light comes on, cars turn left and they can't always see the children, who tend to dash across the road," said 39-year-old housewife Elly Oh, who was almost knocked down by a taxi making a turn at the traffic junction last week.

"Even when they do see the children, they don't have the patience to wait."

The bus was also believed to be turning when the accident occurred on Tuesday.

Long-time resident Lee Boon Wu, 62, said children trail or chase after their parents at the traffic crossing, confusing drivers.

"Some mothers don't hold their children's hands," said the retiree, who has lived in Clementi for about 10 years.

"They walk in front and their children chase them from behind. Cars making a turn don't know who to stop for."

Compounding the problem are the many buses making turns at the junction to enter or leave the Clementi bus interchange.

Fourteen bus services operate out of the hub, which serves an estimated 8,500 commuters a day.

Not all residents were rattled by the fatal accident.

"There are already safety precautions, such as the traffic light crossing and barriers to stop people from jaywalking," said accountant Benjamin Seah, 48, who picks up his nephew from Clementi Primary.

But some want further measures put in place to make crossing the road there safer.

"I suggest an underground pass be built, as it's safer than traffic light crossings," said 51-year-old security officer Mogn Maiyappan, whose son goes to Clementi Primary.

"You don't have to watch out for cars that way."

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