Plan to allow turns only on green arrow at junctions

 An aerial view of Hotel 81 at the junction of New Bridge Road and Upper Cross Street.
An aerial view of Hotel 81 at the junction of New Bridge Road and Upper Cross Street.PHOTO: ST FILE

LTA to boost road safety after recent fatal accidents; two drivers involved arrested

Motorists will have to wait for a green arrow sign before making a right turn at a vast majority of Singapore's 1,600 junctions, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday, announcing a programme to nearly eliminate the use of discretionary right turns that some blamed for two recent fatal accidents.

Responding to letters published in The Straits Times' Forum page and other media outlets questioning the safety of junctions with discretionary right turns, the authority said it has already introduced red-amber-green arrow lights at 200 junctions. The rest will be completed in five years.

For junctions where it is not feasible to install the lights, LTA said it will look into other features to boost road safety. These will include turning pockets, lighted road studs, integrated pedestrian countdown timers, dashed pedestrian crossing lines and "Give Way to Pedestrians" signs.

LTA added that it does regular reviews to identify accident-prone locations, and beefs up safety in such areas with special lights, signs or road markings.

The announcement comes in the wake of two fatal traffic accidents in Clementi and Bukit Timah in the past week.

In both cases, one vehicle involved made a discretionary right turn. The accidents sparked an online petition requesting the LTA to review whether it is still safe to allow drivers to use their own discretion to turn when the traffic light is green, "given the growth in sizes of junctions".

The petition has garnered nearly 16,000 signatures so far.

In a separate statement yesterday, the police said it had arrested a 54-year-old taxi driver involved in the Clementi accident and a 24-year-old woman involved in the Bukit Timah one. The police also reminded motorists to slow down and exercise extra caution when approaching junctions.

"When making a right turn at a traffic junction, motorists must always give way to oncoming vehicles. They should not attempt to make the right turn if their views are obstructed," it said.

The police said that it had received 36 reports of fatal accidents so far this year, which resulted in 38 deaths.

One of the most recent occurred on Monday, when a lorry hit three pedestrians waiting at a traffic light. All three - a father, his daughter and their family friend - were pronounced dead at the scene.

"Pedestrians will always be a vulnerable group of road users," the police said. "While motorists must always keep a lookout for pedestrians, pedestrians can also play their part in keeping our roads safe by staying alert and by looking out for vehicles even if they have the right of way."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2018, with the headline 'Plan to allow turns only on green arrow at junctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe