Man appeared in garbage truck's blind spot mirror for 1 second before being struck: Coroner

Block 179 Yung Sheng Road. (Photo: Google Street View)
Block 179 Yung Sheng Road. (Photo: Google Street View)

SINGAPORE — While making a left turn, a garbage truck driver failed to see a pedestrian crossing from his front left and collided with the elderly man.

The pedestrian, 71-year-old Low Kok Bin, died from multiple injuries sustained in the accident.

In findings issued on Tuesday (24 February), the State Coroner said that Low had died from a traffic misadventure after truck driver Yeo Kay Yee missed Low’s presence in a blind spot mirror for about 1.3 seconds.

On 10 June last year, Yeo drove the garbage truck to the central refuse chute at Block 179, Yung Sheng Road. He was accompanied by two attendants, Taufik Hidayat Amat Bakri and Yusaini Ahamid.

Arriving at about 12.45pm, Yeo stopped the truck and remained in the driver’s seat while the two attendants alighted to unlock the shutters to the refuse chutes at Blk 179 and Blk 180. After Taufik finished loading the garbage, he knocked the rear of the truck to alert Yeo. Yeo checked the blind spot mirror, the side mirrors and the look down mirror but did not see anyone.

He then moved off and made a left turn towards the carpark exit. Video footage from the garbage truck's in-vehicle camera then showed that Low began crossing the service road from the front left of the garbage truck.

The garbage truck collided with Low, who landed beneath the vehicle at the rear of the right front tyre. As a result of the accident, Low died at the scene from multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at 1.13pm.

Low had been staying alone at Yung Kuang Road for the past two and a half years, according to his daughter. He had no known medical conditions apart from a limp as one of his legs was shorter. He had used a walking aid.

A blind spot analysis conducted by a forensic scientist revealed that Low could have been seen through the garbage truck’s blind spot mirror for about 1.3 seconds. Based on this analysis, it was likely that Yeo had not been looking at his blind spot mirror in the 1.3 seconds that Low was visible, said State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam.

SOP for garbage trucks drivers revised after accident

A Senior Operations Manager of Colex Environmental, the company that owns and deploys the garbage truck and its crew to clear garbage in over 200 locations, testified during a hearing that a standard operating procedure (SOP) for garbage truck drivers and attendants had been in place since 2010.

Guidelines state that the attendant is supposed to guide the driver when reversing the garbage truck into the central refuse chute. The attendant must also alert the driver to any obstruction and must remain in full view of the driver until the garbage truck has come to a stop. The driver would have to indicate to the attendant if he needs assistance or if his view was blocked.

The company has since revised its SOP and attendants assigned to the garbage trucks are required to check for pedestrians before the garbage truck moves off as well as when the truck is reversing. The company will also purchase new garbage trucks fitted with 360 degree cameras and blind spot detectors.

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