SINGAPORE —Another school bus accident involving an elderly driver — A 68-year-old minibus driver who was transporting students crashed into a carpark gantry, hitting a woman who was crossing the road.
According to local Chinese media outlet Lianhe Zaobao, the accident happened on Tuesday (9 May) around 12.30pm, near Block 36 Chai Chee Avenue.
The woman was reportedly injured on her head and was later rushed to the hospital.
The gantry sustained damage from the collision, and the right front wheel of the school bus got stuck on the curb of the gantry. Bloodstains could be seen about two meters away from the minibus.
Customers at a nearby coffee shop witnessed the incident, and one of them told Zaobao that he heard a loud noise, and an elderly woman was lying on the ground with severe head injuries.
The woman appeared to be around 70 years old and was holding a paper bag while crossing the road.
Five children onboard
Five children who appeared to be around four or five years old were also on the school bus at the time of the accident. They began crying but were later picked up by their family members about five to six minutes after the incident.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) confirmed that they received a report of the accident at 12.25 pm on Tuesday, and one person was taken to Changi General Hospital for treatment.
According to the Singapore Police Force, a 68-year-old female pedestrian was sent to the hospital in a coma.
The 68-year-old male driver was arrested for careless driving causing grievous hurt. The investigation is still ongoing.
It is reported that the minibus involved in the accident belonged to AWWA Social Service Agency.
In response, an AWWA spokesperson clarified that the accident involved their designated outsourced passenger service company, and the driver was not an AWWA employee.
No AWWA students or staff were injured in the accident.
Earlier case of 72-year-old school bus driver who passed away after an accident
On 27 March, a 72-year-old driver passed away in the hospital after his van skidded and came to a stop near Redhill MRT Station, leaving him pinned to his seat.
According to a report by Lianhe Zaobao, the deceased was hired to replace another 71-year-old driver named Luo, who recently resigned.
The school bus was then taken over by a new driver on Monday, but unfortunately, he got into an accident on his first day at work.
Singapore’s statutory age limit for a vocational licence
In Singapore, The statutory age limit for a vocational licence to drive vehicles is 75 years old.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has commissioned a study by the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) to explore the possibility of increasing the statutory age limit for those holding a vocational driving license.
In October last year, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said in Parliament that the study found that older vocational drivers have a higher accident rate than younger drivers, with drivers aged 70 to 74 being five to six times more likely to have an accident than drivers under 60.
Based on these findings, SMA recommended not to increase the age limit beyond 75 years. LTA decided not to raise the maximum age limit for vocational license holders for now due to safety concerns.
However, older drivers aged 50 to 74 can continue to hold valid vocational licenses if they undergo regular checkups and meet necessary requirements.
Elderly Singaporeans forced to work for survival
More than 20 years have passed since 1999, and many elderly Singaporeans continue to struggle every day working to survive.
According to a Reuters’ report in 2019, many elderly Singaporeans look for jobs after retirement because Singapore’s CPF retirement saving scheme does not provide enough money for them to survive.
“If I don’t work, where will my income come from?” said 71 year-old Mdm Mary Lim, one of many elderly cleaners earning a meager wage clearing up to 400 plates a day at a foodstall in Singapore’s Chinatown.
“If I stop my work, how will I survive?”
The Singapore government announced in the Budget 2023 that it will increase the minimum monthly payout for the Retirement Sum Scheme (RSS) from S$250 to S$350 starting 1 June 2023, as part of the effort to boost retirement adequacy.
However, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) at National University of Singapore published a survey finding in 2019 that an older Singaporean above 65 years old would need S$1,379 a month to meet his or her basic needs.