More are jaywalking, despite the danger

Police: 2,409 cases of such risky behaviour in first quarter of this year

THE number of jaywalking cases has increased, say the police.

The figures went up from 1,758 between January and March last year, to 2,409 during the same period this year.

In addition, nearly 50 people a year are killed while crossing the road. Police statistics revealed that 44 pedestrians were killed last year. The number was 49 in 2011.

"Pedestrians are a vulnerable group of road users. They are likely to sustain serious or fatal injuries if they encounter a traffic accident. Hence, they must never even attempt to jaywalk," said police spokesman Lam Sin How.

The Singapore Road Safety Council (SRSC) said pedestrians form the second-largest group of road traffic fatalities behind motorcyclists and pillion riders.

But both pedestrians and motorists have to play their part.

"(They) have to share the road and at most times it is a compromise in road usage. As co-users of the road, both bear equal responsibility in ensuring road safety," said road safety expert Gopinath Menon, an adjunct associate professor at Nanyang Technological University.

Recent high-profile road tragedies such as the death of Madam Zhang Huirui, wife of a prominent National University of Singapore associate professor last month, and the Tampines accident in January where two boys were killed by a cement mixer have shone the spotlight on traffic safety here.

The Straits Times recently spent two days observing traffic at 20 junctions and crossings here, including four-lane double-carriage ways, cross junctions and T-junctions.

Out of more than 5,000 pedestrians observed, close to 500 of them - nearly one in 10 - were spotted jaywalking.

Sixteen near-accidents were also observed, resulting from lack of attention on either the part of the motorist or pedestrian.

Said 75-year-old retiree Timothy Wong: "I almost got knocked down once by a driver who was on his phone. It is dangerous for pedestrians because drivers are sometimes not watching the road."

Motorists have also observed risky habits by pedestrians who are crossing the road.

"Some may just suddenly run across the road and as drivers we have to be more alert and slow down," said Ms Pang Kim Lang, a 53-year-old social worker.

Besides jaywalking, three other road hazards The Straits Times observed at busy junctions were cyclists who did not dismount when crossing the road, risky behaviour from parents and children, and pedestrians being distracted by their mobile phones.

Said SRSC chairman Bernard Tay: "Pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility. Pedestrians must obey pedestrian signals at crossings and not jaywalk.

"Motorists must give right of way to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings; they must stop and stay stopped for a pedestrian to cross."


Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.