72-year-old elderly cabby blacks out and knocks down pedestrians

The media reported today (24 Mar) that a taxi driver who lost consciousness while driving, ploughed into pedestrians at the junction of Queensway shopping centre on Friday evening (22 Mar). An elderly woman died.

The taxi was driven by an elderly person, a 72-year-old driver. He and another female pedestrian were injured and taken to hospital. Preliminary investigations revealed that the taxi driver had lost consciousness prior to the accident, police said.

A video posted on Facebook page SG Road Vigilante shows the taxi driver beating the red light and abruptly making a right turn, crossing into the path of vehicles that were heading straight. It then ploughed into pedestrians who were crossing the road.

A witness told the Chinese media that there were about six people preparing to cross the road right before the taxi hit them. It hit 2 women resulting in one of them landing on a grass patch, while the other lying on the road.

A doctor said that falling asleep for even a split second can be life threatening. This could happen if a person was tired, took drowsy medication, or was under the influence of alcohol, which affect the driver’s concentration, he said.

“It is not a complete loss of consciousness but it is enough for something to happen during that short duration,” he added.

Another doctor from Raffles Hospital said that it is important to get enough sleep and rest prior to any long road trip. Once fatigue sets in while on the road, it is important to take a break when convenient.

Singapore Safety Driving Centre training manager Gerard Pereira told reporters that many a time, fatigue sets in when drivers have been at the wheel for an extended period of time without a break, especially for taxi drivers whose livelihoods depend on it.

Two weeks ago (10 Mar), a similar incident happened with another cab driver. The cabby was traveling with a passenger on the ECP expressway when he blacked out momentarily.

“When he came to, he realised that his passenger had disembarked. He wanted to get off the expressway to seek medical help and continued driving slowly until he was out of the expressway and at the Rochor Road exit gantry,” the cab company told the media.

The cabby was later warded in hospital for observation. It’s not known why he fainted while driving his cab.

High cost of living in Singapore

As more Singaporeans are being retrenched without work, many are taking to driving Grab or taxi for survival. Many are forced to drive long hours in order to make enough money to cope with the high cost of living in Singapore.

For example, as revealed by a cabby who used to be a senior sales and marketing manager at an electronics MNC for nine years before he was retrenched in 2009, he would drive like 14 to 16 hours a day.

“Taxi driving is a hard life as I work long hours of between 14 – 16 hours each day. On a typical week, I clock about 80 – 100 hours on the road,” the ex-PMET who is married with 2 kids said in an interview.

“Initially, it was tough going as my retrenchment benefits payout didn’t last me more than six months. I also became depressed and felt a deep sense of betrayal, self-denial and hopelessness. I never imagined I would turn to running my own taxi as a full-time job. From a comfy $7,000/month job, I was relegated to earning a mere $2,000/month.”

While driving taxi, he had a heart-attack but survived. He now has four stents in his heart.