NUS student admits riding e-scooter on road during accident that injured pillion rider

SINGAPORE - A National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate illegally rode an e-scooter on the road and got into an accident which seriously injured his pillion rider.

The impact flung both onto the road and knocked out the pillion rider, who suffered injuries to her head and lungs.

On Monday, Chuang Fu Yuan, 25, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Road Traffic Act for riding a personal mobility device on the road.

District Judge Tan Jen Tse called for a report to assess his suitability for probation and will sentence him in October.

The court heard that Chuang gathered with around 15 fellow undergraduates for a party at Sheares Hall residential hall at around 8pm on Feb 27, 2019.

The group included victim Dai Yi Ting, then 20, and another undergraduate, Mr Darren Chong Chi Hao, then 22.

During the party, they consumed vodka and beer.

At around 11pm, Chuang, Ms Dai and Mr Chong decided to return to their dormitory rooms at University Hall.

As it was quite a distance away, they decided to ride e-scooters, which were available to NUS students as part of a collaboration between GrabWheels and the university at the time.

The trial, launched in December 2018 at the Kent Ridge campus, was for NUS and Grab to study the feasibility of using e-scooters to get around the school.

NUS suspended the trial for a week in March 2019 following reports of accidents involving injuries. Grab subsequently suspended its e-scooter service islandwide in November that year.

Mr Chong and Chuang each used a mobile app to rent e-scooters from a hub near Kent Ridge Hall. Ms Dai rode pillion with Chuang.

At around 11.20pm, Chuang overtook Mr Chong's e-scooter near Yusof Ishak House and travelled down a slope towards a roundabout.

According to court documents, Mr Chong saw the other e-scooter come to a sudden and complete stop, causing Chuang and Ms Dai to be flung off before landing on the road.

It was not mentioned in court whether the e-scooter had hit anything.

Mr Chong noticed that Chuang was seriously injured but remained conscious while Ms Dai was unconscious.

An NUS staff member lodged a police report on the incident on March 7, 2019.

Chuang's lawyer, Mr Tan Hee Joek from Tan See Swan & Co, said his client was unaware that riding an e-scooter was not allowed on the road.

He noted that it was fairly common for students to ride e-scooters on the roads in NUS, as the pathways were uneven.

"There did not appear to be any enforcement measures to prevent students from riding e-scooters on roads," Mr Tan added.

In response to queries, an NUS spokesman said "disciplinary action has been taken in accordance with the university's processes, statutes and regulations", without elaborating further.

The spokesman added that the university has supported Ms Dai and her family in providing pastoral care, academic support and financial assistance for her medical expenses.

For riding a personal mobility device on the road, an offender can be jailed for up to three months and fined up to $2,000.

Correction note: An earlier version of this story got the name of the District Judge wrong. It has been corrected. We are sorry for the error. 

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