SINGAPORE: A 58-year-old electric bicycle rider who died instantly after being run over by a prime mover in Geylang two years ago was in the blind spot of the heavy vehicle, a coroner's inquiry found on Wednesday (Jan 23).
The state coroner in her findings urged motorists and pedestrians to be more aware of heavy vehicles that have "huge blind spots", even as a traffic police officer said e-bike riders should not cut across moving traffic.
Mr Lim Chee Hwa had been delivering food on his e-bike on the evening of Jun 12, 2017, the court heard.
At around 7pm, he was on the third lane of a four-lane road at the junction of Lorong 13 Geylang and Sims Avenue when he stopped in front of a prime mover.
Traffic was heavy and a queue had formed in his lane. When a truck in front of the prime mover began moving ahead, the prime mover followed suit.
However, the driver of the prime mover Abdul Aziz Amat did not spot Mr Lim on his e-bike. He moved off from his stationary position and ran over Mr Lim, whose e-bike was mangled from the impact.
Aziz stopped and alighted from his prime mover after he felt the left tyre of his vehicle run over something and heard people shouting at him.
He found Mr Lim lying on the road with his e-bike.
Mr Lim was pronounced dead about 15 minutes later by paramedics, while Aziz was arrested for causing death by a rash act.
No brake marks were found at the scene, nor was there any protective helmet belonging to Mr Lim.
Mr Lim's device, which was approved by the Land Transport Authority and fitted with a seal, was badly damaged in the incident. The prime mover sustained scratches on its side.
An autopsy certified Mr Lim's cause of death as multiple injuries consistent with those in a road traffic incident, with evidence of his head and chest being run over.
E-BIKE WOVE THROUGH VEHICLES; PRIME MOVER DRIVER DID NOT CHECK ALL MIRRORS
Closed-circuit television footage from a durian stall nearby showed that Mr Lim had woven through stationary vehicles across Sims Avenue.
He had stopped between the prime mover and the truck to give way to moving vehicles on the fourth lane.
According to the Traffic Police's chief tester Goh Yong Hua, Mr Lim should not have cut across traffic while the vehicles were in motion.
He also added that it is the responsibility of heavy vehicle drivers to check their blind spots, especially when moving off from a stationary position.
This includes checking the right, left and blind spot mirrors, including the circular blind spot mirror.
Aziz told the court that he had checked the mirrors on his right and left, as well as the circular mirror at the front of the prime mover when he was parked behind the truck, but had not seen Mr Lim on his e-bike.
When it was time to move off, however, he checked only the right mirror and not the circular mirror, he added.
A blind spot analysis conducted by a senior forensic scientist with the Health Sciences Authority found that Mr Lim would have at best been visible only at the point when he began to ride his e-bike across Sims Avenue towards Aziz.
"Thereafter, he was mostly only partially visible or not at all and generally difficult to detect," said the coroner in her findings.
The coroner ruled his death an unfortunate traffic misadventure.
"Motorists and pedestrians have to be much more aware of trucks and other heavy vehicles when using the roads," said State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam.
"The heavy vehicles have huge blind spots and the drivers may not be able to see you. It is important to keep away from these vehicles and to drive at a distance."
She extended her condolences to Mr Lim's family for their loss.