Road deaths hit record low, but motorcyclists and seniors a concern

Traffic Police commander Gerald Lim addressing the media at the release of the Annual Road Traffic Situation 2019 report yesterday, along with Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay. Overall, there has been an improvement in the road traf
Traffic Police commander Gerald Lim addressing the media at the release of the Annual Road Traffic Situation 2019 report yesterday, along with Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay. Overall, there has been an improvement in the road traffic situation.ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

Over half of elderly pedestrian deaths last year due to jaywalking; riders made up bulk of all traffic fatalities

While the numbers of fatal accidents and road deaths last year fell to record lows since records began in 1981, Traffic Police commander Gerald Lim said more can be done.

Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) Lim said the 2.05 road traffic fatalities per 100,000 population last year were considered "very good" compared with regional statistics. "We are doing well," he said at the release of the Annual Road Traffic Situation 2019 report at the Road Safety Community Park yesterday. "But a lot more has to be done in terms of elderly pedestrians and motorcyclists."

The latest figure, compared with 2.20 traffic deaths per 100,000 population in 2018, continues the downward trend that began in 2010, when the figure stood at 3.8.

The number of fatal accidents dipped 3.3 per cent to 116 cases last year, from 120 cases in 2018. This corresponded to 117 deaths last year, a 5.6 per cent drop from 124 in 2018.

Last year also saw a 14 per cent fall in drink-driving accidents - 153, compared with 178 the previous year. Those arrested for drink-driving offences numbered 1,969 last year, a 3.4 per cent decline from 2,038 in 2018.

It is too early to tell whether the amended Road Traffic Act, which came into effect last November and carries heavier penalties, in any way improved the drink-driving figures, said SAC Lim.

While the road traffic situation for last year has improved overall, SAC Lim said the figures were "still not rosy" - particularly with regard to the elderly and motorcyclists.

The number of traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians rose by 33.6 per cent to 322 cases last year, from 241 cases in 2018.

The number of elderly pedestrians killed also increased last year by 12.5 per cent to 27, from 24 in 2018. More than half of the fatal accidents were the result of jaywalking.

A new strategy being explored this year is to engage volunteers to reach out to senior citizens to raise awareness of road safety. This will be done in association with the Lion Befrienders Service Association and NTUC Health Co-operative.

"(But) this takes time and even then, we might not cover everyone," added SAC Lim. "Those living in private estates might not be covered fully, so we have to find strategies to engage them."

The road safety message can be reinforced within the family, said Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay. "I think the young also need to be educated (in road safety), because if not, if the elderly see them doing it (jaywalking), they will follow without realising they are slower," he said.

Another area of concern was motorcycle accidents, as riders comprised almost half of all traffic deaths last year.

The number of fatal accidents involving motorcyclists increased to 67 cases last year, from 65 cases in 2018. Motorcyclist and pillion rider deaths increased by 3.3 per cent to 63 last year, from 61 in 2018.

 
 
 

Overall, accidents that resulted in injuries involving motorcyclists rose 1.9 per cent to 4,444 cases last year, from 4,361 cases in 2018.

To deter red-light running, 12 new red-light cameras will be added by next month. There are now 240 cameras installed islandwide.

Red-light running accidents increased by 14.2 per cent to 153 cases last year, from 134 cases the previous year. The number of red-light running violations spiked by 7.1 per cent to 59,368 cases last year, from 55,433 cases in 2018.

New for this year is the Road Safety Community Park mobile game, which can be played via The Xplorer mobile application. The interactive and virtual "race" takes a player on a self-guided tour of the park while quizzing participants on road safety along the route.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2020, with the headline 'Road deaths hit record low, but m-cyclists and seniors a concern'. Print Edition | Subscribe