Taxi driver gets jail, driving ban for causing woman's death at pedestrian crossing

Lee Chor Seng was jailed for four weeks and banned from driving for five years for killing a pedestrian.
Lee Chor Seng was jailed for four weeks and banned from driving for five years for killing a pedestrian.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A taxi driver failed to keep a proper lookout when making a right turn at a road junction and rammed into a woman at a signalised pedestrian crossing, causing her death.

On Wednesday (Oct 19), Lee Chor Seng, 55, was jailed for four weeks and banned from driving for five years for causing Madam Lim Mue Lan's death through his negligence at the junction of Clementi Avenue 4 and Clementi Avenue 5. The accident happened on June 20, 2016.

Madam Lim, 68, had the right of way and had almost crossed the first lane of Clementi Avenue 5 when she was struck.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Samuel Koh said the collision caused Madam Lim to be thrown onto the bonnet of Lee's taxi.

Lee applied his brakes only after the initial collision. This caused Madam Lim to be flung forward from the vehicle. She landed on the left lane,a short distance infront of the taxi.

She underwent emergency surgery for cranial injuries, and died shortly in hospital.

Investigations showed that at about 7.25am that day, Lee was driving a blue Hyundai Comfort taxi on the centre lane of Clementi Avenue 4. He slowed down as he approached the signalised junction as he wanted to turn right into Clementi Avenue 5.

Before he came to a complete stop at the stop line, the traffic light signal turned green.

But the green right-turning arrow signal was not illuminated.

DPP Koh said Lee, being the first vehicle at the junction, moved forward into the right-turning pocket at a slow speed while waiting for oncoming traffic travelling in the opposite direction to drive past the junction.

At all times, he did not come to a complete stop.

Even before the last car - a multi-purpose vehicle - from the opposite side of Clementi Avenue 4 had fully passed Lee, he accelerated out of the right-turning pocket and made a right turn into Avenue 5. He then collided into Madam Lim.

Lee had had seven speeding offences since 2007, and had paid composition fines.

Pleading for a lighter sentence, Lee said that this was and would be his first and last offence. He apologised sincerely to the victim's family members for the unfortunate accident.

He said he had not been working since, adding that he was not in the best of health.

"During the last couple of months, I have been mentally distressed over the incident which I never never think will happen to me in my life,'' he said.

District Judge Crystal Ong said, having viewed the in-car camera footage, she felt that Lee's negligence here was "quite high''. She said she appreciated that driving was Lee's livelihood, but ultimately, safety on the road must be of utmost importance.

Drivers must remember to drive properly as vehicles can be deadly for road users, she added.

Lee could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined for causing death by doing a negligent act.