Driver who fell asleep and crashed into police car gets $2,500 fine and 12-month driving ban

Sarudin Nasir was fined $2,500 and barred from driving for 12 months for falling asleep while driving and crashing into a police car. PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A 51-year-old driver, who has a sleep disorder, crashed into a police car along an expressway when he fell asleep behind the wheel in December last year, a court heard.

Sarudin Nasir had slept for just 1½ hours the night before.

The accident caused the police car to hit an Aetos auxiliary police motorcycle; two policemen in the car were injured.

On Monday (July 25), the motorist was fined $2,500 and barred from driving for 12 months.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of doing a negligent act which endangered human life.

The court heard that on Dec 9 last year, Sarudin left home for his night work shift. He returned at about 11am the next day and went to sleep. But he got a phone call at 12.30pm informing him of the death of his friend.

Sarudin went to his friend's funeral, and then picked up his wife from work before leaving for his night shift duty.

At about 10.30pm, while driving at about 90kmh on the extreme right lane along Tampines Expressway, towards Pan Island Expressway, he fell asleep at the wheel for a few seconds.

"When he awoke, he saw the police car in front of him but was unable to stop in time," Deputy Public Prosecutor Parvathi Menon told the court.

Police officers Terence Tan Ding Liang and Muhammad Khairi Sufrie Suhaimi were attending to a minor accident on the same lane of the expressway. Mr Tan had parked the police car about 10-15m behind the accident location, with its blinkers switched on. An Aetos motorcycle was parked directly in front of the police car.

The two policemen were doing some administrative work in the front seats of the car, while the Aetos officer on duty was helping with the towing of the vehicle that was involved in the accident.

Sarudin's crash caused the police car to surge forward and hit the motorcycle, which then crashed into the centre guard railing of the expressway.

The accident was captured by the in-car camera footage of a passing motorist. It showed that the brake lights of Sarudin's car came on only about two seconds before the crash.

Mr Tan had bruising on the chest and knees, and was given four days of medical leave. Mr Khairi Sufrie had bruising on the forehead and got three days of medical leave.

At the time of the crash, Sarudin had slept for only 1½ hours in the preceding 26 hours.

A month before the accident, he had been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome, a condition in which a person's breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep.

In sentencing him, District Judge Jasvender said: "You only had 1½ hours of sleep. You ought not to have driven."

Sarudin could have been jailed for six months and fined $2,500.

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