~ By David L K See ~
I refer to Straits Times article "Right of way dilemma at road crossing" (Straits Times, 06 Apr) and the LTA's long-winded reply "Safety measures at junctions" (Straits Times Forum, 09 Apr).
Singapore has no natural resources, but its valuable resource is its people. Thus, the unnatural death of any Singaporean, whether young or old, is certainly one death too many – more so if such deaths can be prevented in the very first place.
The reported fatal accidents at traffic junctions is an urgent issue of public safety – not to mention the many unreported cases of "near-misses".
Many Singaporeans have the indifferent mindset of "It won't happen to me or my loved ones". But when it does, it will be too late to regret! A motorist who knocks down and kills a pedestrian will be traumatised and could receive a jail sentence. For a pedestrian, to die on the spot from a fractured skull or being dragged under a bus is tragic enough. Even more tragic is if he ends up as a "bed-ridden vegetable" or paralysed and wheelchair-bound for life.
In 2009, 9-year old student Mindy Neo lost her young life while crossing a signalised traffic junction and being hit by a van turning right. She died from multiple skull fractures. Just recently, a 66-year old woman also lost her life at another signalised junction, after being hit by a bus turning right. She was dragged under the bus and died on the spot.
Disaster waiting to happen
After each tragedy, many concerned newspaper forum writers have asked the LTA to do away with the current "double-green" traffic system, where vehicles turning right and pedestrains crossing are allowed to occur simultaneously. Apparently, Singapore is the only country in the world with such an "unsafe system", which can cause confusion and misunderstanding between motorists and pedestrains. It is a high-risk arrangement and a tragedy waiting to happen, more so with poorer visibility at night and during rainy days.
Most regrettably, each time the LTA will come up with long-winded replies to defend the current system as helping to speed up right-turning traffic! But at the expense of precious human lives? How much time can you really save?
Here is a simple solution which can be immediately implemented to prevent any further "needless and senseless deaths" at traffic junctions. The "smart and safe system" is to completely separate the movements of motorists and pedestrians, and allocating separate time slots for them. Such a clear-cut and unambiguous arrangement has long been practised in Perth,Western Australia.
In its latest reply, the LTA made the shocking revelation that such an arrangement is in place but only at certain junctions. Why implement only in "certain" junctions and not "all" junctions to maximise public safety? Must our LTA officials just sit back and wait for more traffic junction tragedies to occur before taking firm action? When will they live up to the recent call by Minister in charge of Civil Service DPM Teo Chee Hean to "do the right things, and do them right"?