Cabby jailed for rash driving

Taxi driver N. Prama Kumar was overtaking a car when its driver honked. Unhappy at that, he cut into the path of the car and jammed his brakes, causing the vehicle to hit his cab.

The driver of the car, Benjamin Chua Ding Sheng, 19, and his father Chua Keh Soon, 52, then confronted Prama and assaulted him.

Yesterday , Prama, 55, was jailed for a week and disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for six months after a four-day trial.

District Judge Marvin Bay found him guilty of one count of driving in a rash manner at around 8.20pm on Nov 19, 2016.

The older Chua pleaded guilty to causing hurt and was sentenced to five days' jail on April 5 while his son was given probation.

The court heard that Prama was driving on the Pan-Island Expressway when he stopped abruptly though there were no vehicles in front. This caused the older Chua, who was sitting in the front passenger seat in his son's car, to hit his head on the dashboard.

The prosecution said Prama felt offended when Benjamin Chua honked at him and flashed his headlights. The younger Chua told the court he did so to express his concern over Prama's manner of driving, which he considered to be dangerous. He also said Prama encroached into his travel path.

The Chuas assaulted Prama, whose injuries included a bruise around his left eye. He also suffered neck pain.

The cabby, who was unrepresented, said he applied his brakes for "safety reasons" as he was "dazzled" by the headlights and was concerned for the vehicles purportedly travelling in front of him.

Judge Bay, in sentencing him, said: "It is difficult to attach any significant credibility to Mr Prama's claimed basis for braking as there were no vehicles directly in front of Mr Prama, nor vehicles attempting to overtake Mr Prama at the time of his sudden braking. This is manifestly clear from the CCTV footage of Mr Prama's own taxi."

Prama's "impetuous act of cutting into another lane and then braking engendered a high degree of risk", he added. He also stressed that he did not condone the Chuas' conduct after the accident.

For driving in a rash manner, Prama could have been jailed for up to six months and fined up to $2,500.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2018, with the headline 'Cabby jailed for rash driving'. Print Edition | Subscribe