Rise in jaywalking accidents, with 30% involving the elderly

People jaywalking in North Bridge Road yesterday, despite having an overhead bridge and pedestrian crossing nearby. There were 161 accidents in which pedestrians jaywalked in the first six months of this year, up from 133 in the same period last year
People jaywalking in North Bridge Road yesterday, despite having an overhead bridge and pedestrian crossing nearby. There were 161 accidents in which pedestrians jaywalked in the first six months of this year, up from 133 in the same period last year, and 103 for the corresponding period in 2015.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Accidents involving jaywalkers rose by 21 per cent in the first half of this year, with about 30 per cent of the cases involving the elderly, the police said yesterday.

There were 161 accidents in which pedestrians jaywalked in the first six months of this year, up from 133 in the same period last year, and 109, correspondingly, for the year before.

In the first half of this year, there were 135 accidents involving elderly pedestrians in general, up from 124 in the same period last year, and 103 for the corresponding period in 2015.

"This is a concern as more than 50 per cent of fatal accidents in the first half of this year involved elderly pedestrians jaywalking," said a police spokesman.

There were 11 fatal accidents involving elderly pedestrians. "The elderly tend to be more vulnerable than others due to their age and health," added the spokesman.

Places where people jaywalk include Tiong Bahru Road, Toa Payoh Central and Eu Tong Sen Street, The Straits Times understands.

Yesterday morning, each time the traffic lights turned red for cars in North Bridge Road, The Straits Times observed three to four people jaywalking across the four-lane street - despite an overhead bridge, pedestrian crossing and six uniformed Traffic Police officers stationed nearby.

It was one of two areas where the Traffic Police conducted their operations - Chin Swee Road was the other - and a total of 43 people were stopped yesterday morning.

Dishwasher Sim Boo Hong, 67, was among those stopped in North Bridge Road. He said he did not use the crossings as it was more convenient to jaywalk. "My legs hurt when I climb the stairs, but I will use the crossings in future."

Another pedestrian who was stopped, administrative worker Mary Byrne, 35, said: "It is very common. It happens every day, and old people who walk very slowly jaywalk here as well."

Jaywalking, or crossing the road within 50m of a crossing zone, may attract a $20 fine. Offenders may also be charged and fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to three months. Repeat offenders may be fined up to $2,000 or jailed for up to six months.

On Monday, a four-year-old girl died in an accident involving a car in Bukit Batok Central. She was with her family's maid, who was injured. A barber who was at the scene said people often jaywalked along the road where the accident happened.

In May, a 10-year-old boy was severely hurt after being knocked down by a car in Yishun. He was said to have crossed the road after alighting from a bus at a nearby bus stop.

Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay said agencies may have to look at road-crossing infrastructure and whe-ther changes should be made.

"They could make overhead bridges less steep and wider, allowing older people more space to stop and rest. Signs for the crossings could be more prominent."

He added: "Some places have traffic lights allowing both pedestrians and vehicles to move at the same time. This should not be the case. Either the vehicles cross first, or the people do."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2017, with the headline 'Rise in jaywalking accidents, with 30% involving the elderly'. Print Edition | Subscribe