West Coast e-bike deaths: Fatigue may have caused driver to fall asleep, says coroner

West Coast e-bike deaths: Fatigue may have caused driver to fall asleep, says coroner

Sahadevan West Coast e-bike deaths
Trailer driver Sahadevan Senguttuvan (left) and the scene of the fatal accident he was involved in at West Coast Highway, posted by Facebook user Eric Ang.

SINGAPORE: Fatigue from a "gruelling schedule" and the "monotonous nature of prolonged driving" may have caused the driver of a trailer to "drift off to sleep" while on the road, causing an accident that killed two e-bikers, Coroner Marvin Bay ruled on Friday (Oct 20).

Sahadevan Senguttuvan, 35, had worked at least twelve hours the day before the accident on West Coast Highway last October, and was reaching the end of another similarly long shift when his prime mover trailer crashed into three e-bikers.

With three short meal breaks of "15 to 30 minutes" and an hour's rest between 9pm and 10pm on the fatal night, Mr Sahadevan's claim that he felt alert and not fatigued at the time of the accident was found to be "highly suspect" by Mr Bay.

Mr Sahadevan testified on Thursday that he had made no attempt to brake before the collision.

"It is entirely plausible that fatigue and poor rest played a major role in the case ... (Given) his continued inability to take any effective evasive action or brake, it seems entirely possible that Sahadevan had in fact drifted off to sleep while driving on a straight stretch of road," he said.

Ang Yee Fong, 25, was pronounced dead on scene, while Ong Zi Quan, 18, succumbed to his injuries shortly after at the National University Hospital.

The third e-biker, Marcus Loke Teck Soon, who was then 17, had leg injuries.

DRIVER'S TESTIMONY "HIGHLY DUBIOUS"

Mr Sahadevan also testified that the e-bikers had been stationary before cutting into his lane - a testimony that Mr Bay said was "highly dubious and very unlikely untrue", as it went "against the grain" of eyewitness accounts, including that of Mr Loke and an independent witness, as well as CCTV evidence.

Mr Loke said on Thursday that he and his fellow e-bikers did not stop at any point in time, and have been riding on the double yellow lines on the extreme left side of the road.

CCTV footage from a building opposite the scene of the accident showed that the e-bikers had been moving.

The coroner added that there was no basis to suspect foul play, and called the deaths "tragic traffic misadventures" that not only highlighted the "sobering fact" that there were no fewer than 13 fatalities involving power-assisted bicycles since 2014, but one that also arose from Mr Sahadevan’s own "gross inattention".

The only "rational" explanation and "most likely scenario" for the accident is that the trailer driver had "completely failed" to notice the three e-bikers, in spite of fitted LED lights on the vehicles, which "should have amply sufficed to facilitate detection from behind by an reasonably alert and watchful driver", the coroner concluded.

Source: CNA/kc

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