Bus driver went into motorcyclist's path, causing his death

SINGAPORE - A bus driver making a right turn at a signalised traffic light junction encroached into a motorcyclist's path, causing the motorcyle to crash into the rear of the bus.

The motorcyclist, Malaysian Puthalvan Vadiveloo, 40, and his wife, Madam Puspa Sinnappa, who was riding pillion, were flung off the motorcycle. Mr Puthalvan died the next day from multiple injuries while his wife, now 47, was hospitalised for 32 days for her injuries, which included a fractured thigh bone and injured left knee.

On Thursday (Nov 23), Balasingam Rengasamy, 65, now unemployed, was jailed for six weeks and banned from driving for five years for causing the Singapore permanent resident's death through his negligence on Nov 23, 2015.

A second charge of causing grievous hurt to Madam Puspa was taken into consideration.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia said that Balasingam was driving the bus along Tuas West Road around 6.26am that day, on the way to pick up workers from Keppel Shipyard.

When he approached the cross junction with Pioneer Road, he kept right as he intended to turn right into Pioneer Road towards Jalan Buroh.

Mr Puthalvan, riding on Tuas West Road, was approaching the cross junction at the same time.

As the traffic light was green in his favour, he continued travelling ahead at a speed of about 50kmh.

Balasingam observed that the traffic light was showing green only, without a green right turn arrow in his favour. He failed to keep a proper lookout before turning right into the cross junction. He also failed to see the motorcyclist, who had the right of way, and encroached into his path.

Mr Puthalvan's motorcycle hit the rear left side of the bus. Balasingam felt an impact while turning and continued driving for a short distance before he stopped to check.

He alighted and saw a few motorists running towards Mr Puthalvan and his wife, who were lying on the road. The couple were taken to hospital.

Asking for a sentence of at least eight weeks' jail and a five-year driving ban, DPP Teo told District Judge Wong Li Tein that Balasingam's negligence was high.

She said he had not learnt from 20 traffic infringements committed from 2001 to 2015 with composition fines paid. They included speeding on six occasions and failing to stop at red lights twice.

She said he failed to be vigilant at a signalised cross junction, a basic duty expected of every driver.

Pleading for leniency, Balasingam's lawyer Vinit Chhabra said his client, a retired air force staff sergeant, was remorseful and regretted the death.

"Even though he has had his driving licence for the last two years, he has not driven because he was unable to bring himself to drive because of the incident," said the lawyer.

The maximum penalty for causing death by doing a negligent act is two years' jail and a fine.