Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Adriane's Open letter to folks who can make a difference

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister Lui Tuck Yew and Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim,

I write this letter with a heavy heart and great reluctance as I pondered if I should publish this letter since I penned it last night upon hearing of the accident at Tampines. You see I do not particularly enjoy having to write letters of this nature but I felt that this message has to be made to yourself and the authorities, a message that road users have been making for a long time, that being protect the vulnerable on the roads.

By now everyone knows that yesterday, two boys age 13 and 10 that were cycling near their school had their lives tragically ended violently by a cement mover truck. Until the facts of the matter are ascertained, we might not know the true circumstances of the accident now. What we do however know are a mother lost two sons while they were doing something as innocent as cycling in all places, Tampines the nation’s first “cycling town” 50 m from their school.

Since Mr. Freddie Khoo’s passing after being struck down by a truck in 2012, Parliamentary Secretary Mohammed Faishal Ibrahim was tasked by Minister Lui Tuck Yew to look into the matter of road safety.

However has the efforts been been lacking or are there gaps, for why does it seem we are seeing more instead of less accidents involving larger vehicles and two wheelers be it motorised and non motorised taking place since. A young boy was injured by a truck at circuit road last year and just last week a lorry was caught on film tailgating and swerving into a female motorcyclist leaving her with a broken arm. In addition how many more accidents are there that never make it to the news? Not downplaying previous accidents but today’s accident is the most heart rending and shocking to date for a mother to have to face the tragic loss of two sons today in such a violent and abrupt manner.

This time the accident victims are not some “sports cyclist in lycra” travelling along side traffic moving at a higher speed on a major road as the fatal accidents before. It is two young children riding in a CYCLING TOWN of all places, in a neighbour hood road where traffic users are meant to be watchful of other more vulnerable users on these small roads, in a school zone where speeds are regulated.

We do not need knee jerk responses such as "step up road safety education and work with the police and the Land Transport Authority on further measures to enhance safety" as stated by Minster Heng. Measures that are only short lived and offer no long term solution.We do not want to scramble into saving measures after accidents have taken place but we want measures to be taken before they happen. For after all no matter how much we do now, we cannot give a mother back her two sons rather should we not prevent this from even happening.

What We need now is the government to have foresight, to look ahead and identify the key areas and groups at risk that needs to be addressed. Education for all road users especially the most vulnerable namely the silent majority that being young children, elderly and foreign workers? Public campaigns and education to drivers? Road design for safety of all users and public infrastructure? Ensure safe interaction between road users? The list goes on and it will be hard work but what we need to identity now is what needs to be done urgently to break this cycle of traffic accidents for they seem to be occuring at an alarming rate. One life lost is one too many and yesterday we lost two young ones in one sweep.

We have to act now for no amount of apologies can bring a life back but the foresight and determination to make things right can prevent more lives from being lost.

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