Fatal accidents, road deaths at record low in 2019, but more accidents involve elderly and motorcyclists

The latest statistics, down from 2.20 traffic deaths per 100,000 population in 2018, show the downward trend that began in 2010, when the figure stood at 3.8. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - While the number of fatal accidents and road deaths in 2019 dropped to a record low 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 in 2019 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 on Monday (Feb 10). "But a lot more has to be done in terms of elderly pedestrians and motorcyclists."

The latest statistics, down from 2.20 traffic deaths per 100,000 population in 2018, show 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 in 2019, from 120 cases in 2018. This corresponded to 117 deaths in 2019, a 5.6 per cent drop from 124 the year before.

There were very slight improvements in the number of accidents resulting in injuries and the number of persons injured.

There were 7,666 such accidents in 2019, down 0.3 per cent from 7,690 cases in 2018.

The number of injured people also fell by 2.4 per cent to 9,773 persons last year from more than 10,000 persons in 2018.

Last year also saw a 14 per cent fall in drink-driving accidents - 153, compared with 178 in the previous year.

Those arrested for drink-driving offences numbered 1,969 persons in 2019, 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 on November 2019 and carries heavier penalties, in any way improved the drink-driving figures, said SAC Lim.

While the overall the road traffic situation for 2019 had improved, SAC Lim said the figures were "still not rosy - particularly with regards to the elderly and motorcyclists. Measures would also be stepped up against speeding-related and red-light-running offenders.

The number of traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians rose by 33.6 per cent to 322 cases in 2019, from 241 cases in 2018.

Elderly pedestrians killed also increased by 12.5 per cent to 27 persons in 2019, from 24 persons in 2018. More than half of the fatal accidents were the result of jaywalking.

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

This is on top of road safety initiatives like Silver Zones and traffic police outreach programmes for senior citizens.

"(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 chairman Bernard Tay. "I think the young also need to be educated (in road safety) because if not, 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 in 2019, from 65 cases in 2018.

Motorcyclist and pillion rider deaths increased by 3.3 per cent to 63 in 2019, 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.

SAC Lim said he believed riders on larger capacity motorcycles were "better and more mature", while those on smaller motorcycles tend to get into accidents.

To combat the rising deaths and injuries suffered by motorcyclists, the traffic police will continue with engagement efforts like the annual Singapore Ride Safe Campaign.

The mandatory simulator training implemented in December last year will also be leveraged to encourage safer motoring practices and educate motorists on the causes of accidents.

To deter red-light running, 12 new red-light cameras will be added by March this year in locations like Dairy Farm Road, Pasir Ris Drive 8 and Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4.

Red-light running accidents increased by 14.2 per cent to 153 cases in 2019, from 134 cases the previous year. The number of red-light running violations spiked by 7.1 per cent to 59,368 cases in 2019, from 55,433 cases in 2018.

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At present, 240 cameras have been installed islandwide.

New for this year is a mobile game called the Road Safety Community Park (RSCP) race, which can be played via The Xplorer mobile app.

The interactive and virtual "race" takes a player on a self-guided tour of RSCP while quizzing participants on road safety along the route.

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