Traffic death rate drops to lowest since 1981

But elderly pedestrians are a concern as they were involved in more accidents last year

A car accident along Lorong 1 Toa Payoh. PHOTO: ST FILE

The number of deaths and fatal traffic accidents dropped last year compared with 2015, the Traffic Police said yesterday.

In fact, its annual report, Road Traffic Situation 2016, shows that last year's death rate per 100,000 persons, which fell to 2.51 from 2.73 in 2015, was the lowest since 1981. The number of deaths dropped from 151 in 2015 to 141 last year.

While there were improvements in areas such as deaths due to drink-driving and speeding violations, the biggest concern was elderly pedestrians.

Accidents involving them went up by 19.6 per cent, from 224 in 2015 to 268 last year. Correspondingly, the number of elderly pedestrians dying in accidents rose by 21.7 per cent, from 23 in 2015 to 28 last year.

Traffic Police commander Sam Tee said the police are committed to working together with other government agencies to educate the elderly on road dangers and how to use the roads safely. "To me, it is a big concern because we are an ageing population," he said.

Of the 28 deaths last year, 16 were attributed to jaywalking, while 12 were killed when motorists crashed into them despite the pedestrians having the right of way.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Tee said: "We really need to remind all motorists to look out for the elders in general. More so when they are in areas where the congregation of the elders is much higher, like in the Silver Zones."

To take the road safety message to elderly pedestrians, an initiative called the Road Master Test Kit was launched in November last year. It aims to educate elderly pedestrians, while engaging family members to remind them not to jaywalk.

So far, more than 1,000 of these kits, which assess seniors' eyesight, hearing and reaction time, have been distributed.

Some 110 seniors' activity corners have been identified as places to engage the elderly and distribute the kits at the same time.

Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay, who is in his 60s, said some people may forget that they are ageing.

"A lot of old people, including myself, do not notice when our hearing and eyesight deteriorate. The kit is useful and important to confirm if you need to be more careful on the roads," he said.

Collecting his kit yesterday was Redhill resident William Chua, who said that in taking shortcuts, he ends up jaywalking. But he admits his confidence in doing so is reduced as his reflexes are slower owing to ageing.

The 67-year-old said: "I am going to use this kit and treat it like a game where I can involve my three grandchildren. We can all remind one another of road safety because sometimes, old people forget they are no longer quick on their feet."

The kits can also be redeemed at a dispenser by using senior citizen concession ez-link cards.

From today, the dispenser is at Bishan Street 22, opposite the Bishan North Shopping Mall.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2017, with the headline Traffic death rate drops to lowest since 1981. Subscribe