Increase in jaywalking accidents call for stricter enforcement

Singaporean drivers are an impatient lot. When they see a jaywalker, they wouldn’t slow down the car…they would in fact speed up. Just so they can “assert their rights”, said one driver whom preferred to remain anonymous.

“I’ll tell you very honestly, I don’t know why but when I’m behind the wheel I feel very irritated by cyclists, jaywalkers and eScooters. I won’t give a [censored] about these guys, they belong on the sidewalk, not the road’, he said.

The country may appear to have strict traffic rules, but compared to countries like Australia, the U.K and Europe, our traffic enforcement is actually quite relaxed. A lack of traffic police presence on the roads may be a reason why motorists are emboldened to drive more aggressively.

It was reported today that the number of accidents involving jaywalking pedestrians rose by 21% in the first half of this year. 30% of this figure involved the elderly. 

The elderly are a very vulnerable group. To use the overheard bridge or to walk a few hundred meters more to use a pedestrian crossing is a challenge to them. It hurts and their actions are much slower.

Children are another vulnerable bunch. They’re faster and are prone to dash across roads. In May 2017, a 10-year-old boy was taken to hospital with severe injuries after being knocked down by a car in Yishun Ring Road, towards Yishun Avenue 2. He was said to have crossed the road right after alighting from a bus at a nearby bus stop.

Pedestrians cannot help but to jaywalk oftentimes. They ought to use proper crossings where they can, but the burden is also on motorists to drive defensively.

Modern cars are larger and very powerful. Compound that with efficient soundproofing, drivers may find it hard to estimate how fast they’re accelerating. On a clear stretch of road, one can absent mindedly hit a hundred kilometres per hour in a matter of seconds and by the time a jaywalker is spotted, it is too late to react.

Companies that hire foreign drivers ought to remind them constantly about the need to watch their driving behaviour. Some import their driving habits from countries with aggressive roads. It doesn’t help that the vehicles they operate are large, heavy duty machines with plenty of blind spots.

We can wait for the authorities to put more enforcement officers on the roads, we can wait for them to build more speed traps, overhead bridges, more traffic lights and more crossings – but there is one thing we can do right now for each other…

And that is to be mindful that we share our roads with someone else’s daughter, wife, father and son and that it is up to us to keep them safe, whether or not you’re a motorist or a pedestrian.

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