Jail, driving ban for ex-bus driver in fatal accident

An SMRT bus driver failed to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians while making a right turn, and hit an elderly man who was crossing the road.

Malaysian Mokhtar Bahrom, 37, was jailed for 10 weeks and banned from driving for five years yesterday, for causing the death of Mr Choo Tian Hwa, 80, at the junction of Woodlands Avenue 7 and Woodlands Avenue 2 at about 11pm on July 9 last year.

Mokhtar, who is no longer working for SMRT, was driving service 901 along Woodlands Avenue 7 when he made a right turn into Woodlands Avenue 2 on a green traffic light. The signals were not showing a right-turn arrow.

He neither stopped nor kept a proper lookout for people using the designated pedestrian crossing, which resulted in the bus hitting Mr Choo.

Mr Choo had already passed the centre of the pedestrian crossing when he was struck. He died a week later in hospital from a head injury.

Mokhtar returned to Malaysia on Oct 1 last year when his work permit was cancelled, but was arrested by the Malaysian police and subsequently handed over to the Singapore police on Feb 16.

District Judge Lim Tse Haw said that there were aggravating factors in the case. Mokhtar was driving a heavy vehicle, which has the potential to cause serious harm if not handled with due care.

The judge said Mokhtar unfortunately failed to handle the bus with due care, resulting in the accident.

He did not slow down and look out for pedestrians who might have been crossing the road, particularly those who are more vulnerable. "Aged pedestrians may not be fast in crossing the road," the judge said.

Mokhtar, who is supporting his wife and three children in Malaysia, could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for causing death by committing a negligent act.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2017, with the headline 'Jail, driving ban for ex-bus driver in fatal accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe