Driver spooked by cockroach crashes car

The red Mazda mounted the pavement and came to a stop at the foot of the overhead bridge in Jurong East Central last Friday. The 61-year-old driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
The red Mazda mounted the pavement and came to a stop at the foot of the overhead bridge in Jurong East Central last Friday. The 61-year-old driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries.PHOTO: ST READER

Vermin in vehicle not an isolated case, and pest experts say best way to avoid it is not to eat in car

The sight of a cockroach crawling in her car gave a 61-year-old woman such a fright that she crashed into an overhead bridge in Jurong East Central last Friday.

In photos of the incident shared on Facebook, the red Mazda had mounted the pavement and come to a stop at the foot of the stairs. Its front end appeared to be badly damaged by a collision with the post.

The police said they were alerted to an accident involving a car in Jurong East Central, in the direction of Science Centre Road, at about 7.30am. The woman was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital with minor injuries.

The Straits Times understands that the woman was alone in the car, and her son arrived shortly after the accident.

When such critters appear, drivers should stay calm, said private driving instructor Patrick Ong, 64.

"Those driving on main roads should stay calm, drive to the side of the road and pull over to address the situation," he said.

The woman is not the first driver to take fright at the sight of such vermin infesting her car. Pest control company PestBusters said about 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the inquiries it attended to in the past two years related to cockroaches in vehicles.

It is a common sight to see bundles of pandan leaves in taxis used as a roach repellent. However, these do not address the root cause of the infestation, said PestBusters.

Rentokil Singapore confirmed this. On its website, its medical entomologist, Dr Chan Hiang Hao, said it is a myth that pandan gets rid of roaches.

"Cockroaches may avoid it, but they are not killed. Moreover, should these fresh leaves dry up, they could become a food source for cockroaches and other pests," he said.

Pest control companies said the way to stop roaches from making a home in one's car is to stop eating in it. Removing any food sources such as crumbs and food bags, as well as cleaning and vacuuming the car interior regularly, including the carpets, also help.

In addition, ensure that no creepy-crawlies are being transported into the car via shopping bags, they added.

They also advise decluttering the boot to reduce places that roaches can hide in, and keeping windows and doors tightly shut, as well as air-conditioning vents, which are good ways for roaches to get in.

PestBusters recommended putting roach traps under the seats if a critter has been sighted.

The sign of a serious infestation, it said, is if you see a cockroach in the car in the day time.

In such cases, it told The Straits Times: "Cockroaches can be seen on the seats, at the side of the doors, on the floor mat, even in the engine area; literally everywhere."

This is unusual because cockroaches mostly emerge at night to search for food.

"If there are roach activities during the day, the infestation level is beyond imagination," it added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2018, with the headline 'Driver spooked by cockroach crashes car'. Print Edition | Subscribe