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Fewer accidents on Singapore roads last year; disproportionate number involve motorcyclists, elderly

Fewer accidents on Singapore roads last year; disproportionate number involve motorcyclists, elderly

Cars, motorcycles and general traffic in Singapore's central business district (CBD). (File photo: Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: Singapore saw a decrease in the number of road traffic accidents last year - as well as fatalities and injuries resulting from these accidents - compared to 2019, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) announced on Wednesday (Feb 10). 

This was due in part to the COVID-19 situation, the police said, noting there was less traffic on the roads during Singapore’s two-month “circuit breaker” period - when many worked from home and social gatherings were banned as part of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. 

Figures from the SPF’s Annual Road Traffic Situation report however showed increases in the number of both speeding-related and fatal drink-driving accidents.

Elderly pedestrians and motorcyclists remain “groups of concern”, it added, noting they account for a disproportionate number of traffic accidents resulting in injuries or death.

DECREASE IN ACCIDENTS

The number of fatal accidents decreased from 117 in 2019 to 82 last year - a drop of almost 30 per cent - with the number of fatalities going from 118 two years ago to 85 in 2020. 

This is the lowest number of fatalities resulting from such accidents since 1981, when records began. 

In comparison, there were 140 fatal accidents with 141 fatalities in 2016. 

The road traffic fatality rate per 100,000 population decreased from 2.07 in 2019 to 1.49 in 2020, said the SPF. 

There was a similar fall in the number of accidents resulting in injuries, which decreased from 7,705 cases in 2019 to 5,473 last year. 

The number of people injured in these accidents also fell from 9,833 in 2019 to 6,669 last year - a 32.2 per cent decrease. 

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Traffic Police Commander Gerald Lim noted that the low figures were anomalous given the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it would have to be seen whether this would continue when the traffic situation returns to normal. 

The police also noted a decrease in the number of accidents resulting from running red lights - which dropped from 170 cases in 2019 to 114 in 2020 - as well as a fall in the number of red light running violations, which stood at 50,725 last year, down from 60,693 cases in 2019. 

READ: Road traffic situation improves but spike in accidents involving elderly pedestrians 

The number of drink driving accidents also dipped by about 10 per cent - from 162 two years ago to 146 in 2020 - with the number of people arrested for drink driving falling from 1,987 in 2019 to 1,507 last year, a 24.2 per cent decrease. 

There was however an increase in the number of fatal drink-driving accidents, which went up from 7 cases in 2019 to 13 last year. 

And while the number of speeding violations fell from 184,977 in 2019 to 162,324 last year, the number of speeding-related accidents saw a slight increase to 758 in 2020, up from 735 cases the previous year.  

Senior Assistant Commissioner Lim said the increase in instances of both fatal drink-driving and speed-related accidents could be because of lighter traffic on the roads, owing to the pandemic. 

"My view is that because the roads were emptier, people tend to think they can travel faster... and sometimes they don't handle their vehicles well, they don't keep a proper lookout and this is what leads to accidents," he said.

Fewer vehicles could have also led motorists to believe there was less enforcement on the roads, possibly leading to the rise in the number of fatal drink-driving accidents, he added. 

“Notwithstanding that drink driving accidents, red light running accidents and speeding violations have decreased, the Traffic Police (TP) will continue its enforcement efforts and take action against irresponsible motorists who put other road users and themselves at risk,” said the SPF. 

It noted that speed cameras have been deployed islandwide, with “conspicuous warning signages” to alert motorists to the presence of cameras and remind them to slow down. 

Messages displayed on the Land Transport Authority’s electronic boards - located along expressways and major roads - also remind motorists not to speed, it added. 

“Traffic Police adopts a tough enforcement stance towards irresponsible driving behaviour. Motorists who are caught speeding excessively or drink-driving may be prosecuted in court,” said the police, adding that motorists may face imprisonment and disqualification from driving if grievous hurt or death is caused.

READ: 95% of potholes repaired as of Jan 31, with highest monthly record in January

ELDERLY PEDESTRIANS AND MOTORCYCLISTS

Elderly pedestrians and motorcyclists continue to be involved in a disproportionate number of traffic accidents resulting in injuries or death, said the SPF. 

“In particular motorcyclists continue to be over-represented in fatal accidents and were involved in more than 63 per cent of fatal accidents in 2020,” said the police. 

The number of traffic accidents involving elderly pedestrians stood at 234 last year, down from 321 the year before, with the number of elderly pedestrian fatalities falling by 44.4 per cent, from 27 in 2019 to 15 last year. 

“About half of the fatal accidents involving elderly pedestrians were due to jaywalking,” the police said, adding that the Traffic Police would continue to remind elderly road users not to take their safety on roads for granted. 

Meanwhile, the number of accidents resulting in injuries involving motorcyclists decreased by almost 30 per cent last year, falling to 3,128 from 4,463 in 2019. 

“The number of motorcyclists and pillion riders who sustained injuries also decreased by 32.5 per cent from 5,010 in 2019 to 3,381 in 2020,” said the police, adding that the Traffic Police would continue with education and engagement efforts for motorcyclists.

READ: Are you a good driver? Most think positively of themselves, view others negatively: Traffic Police survey

INITIATIVES

Noting the deterioration of eye health could lead to impaired vision, affecting the safety of road users, the SPF said the Traffic Police and the Singapore Road Safety Council had partnered with Singapore Optometric Association to develop an eye care kit. 

The kit - which will be distributed to the elderly - includes four tests, which check peripheral vision as well as the ability to distinguish details and colour contrasts. 

It also aims to raise awareness on different aspects of vision care and encourage vulnerable road users -  especially the elderly - to visit optometrists for regular eye checks, said the police. 

The Traffic Police, together with the Singapore Road Safety Council and the LTA, have also launched a series of six road safety videos - on topics such as distracted crossing and playing near the road side - aimed at primary and secondary school students. 

“In addition, all road users will soon be able to test their own knowledge of road traffic rules and improve their understanding of traffic rules and proper road behaviour via the online Mock Theory Tests on Traffic Police’s Online Learning Portal,” said the SPF.

The portal will allow members of the public to attempt the mock Basic Theory test, Final Theory test and Riding Theory test for free, with the mock theory tests expected to be available from the second half of this year. 

“Road safety is a shared responsibility. Traffic Police urges all road users to play their part in making Singapore’s roads safer.” 

Source: CNA/lk(rw)

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