A former taxi driver was charged on Friday (11 January) with causing the death of a 19-year-old National University of Singapore (NUS) female undergraduate whom he was ferrying following an accident with a car in Clementi last year.
Yap Kok Hua, 55, is accused of causing student Kathy Ong Kai Ting’s death by doing a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide.
The taxi that Yap was driving collided with the car at the junction of Clementi Road and Commonwealth Avenue West on 19 April 2018.
While he was making a discretionary right turn into Clementi Road, from Commonwealth Avenue West, Yap allegedly failed to give way to the car travelling straight from the opposite direction which purportedly had the right of way.
Yap, who is being represented by pro bono lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong of Invictus Law Corporation, was granted bail of $10,000. The case will be mentioned in court again on 1 February.
If found guilty of the charge, Yap faces up to two years’ jail along with a fine.
Victim was in back seat
According to previous media reports, Ong, an only child, was travelling in Yap’s taxi with three other NUS undergraduates. She was sitting in the back passenger seat.
Another student who was sitting in the front passenger seat had to be extricated by firemen with hydraulic rescue tools. All four students as well as the taxi and car drivers were sent to hospital.
A video of the accident was put up on the ROADS.sg Facebook group and widely shared.
Accidents sparked change
The fatal accident was one of two that occured in the same week involving vehicles that had made discretionary right turns at traffic junctions.
On 22 April last year, a 23-year-old woman died after a crash between a car and a bus at the junction of Jalan Anak Bukit and Jalan Jurong Kechil in Bukit Timah. She was seated in the back of the right-turning car.
The high profile accidents sparked an online petition, “Change traffic light rules to prevent further casualties,” for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to do away with the discretionary right turn. It garnered 16,000 signatures.
In the same month, LTA announced that it would phase out the discretionary right turn at traffic junctions in Singapore in the next five years.
LTA had previously justified the discretionary right turn for optimising the overall efficiency of Singapore’s road junctions. With the phased removal of discretionary right turns, motorists will have to wait for the green arrow sign before making a right turn.