SINGAPORE — An elderly van driver failed to slow down as he approached a zebra crossing and collided with a cyclist, killing the man.
Bhagwan Tulsidas Binwani, 70, claimed that he did not see the cyclist before the crash.
Bhagwan was sentenced to 12 weeks’ jail and a fine of S$3,800 on Thursday (Oct 26) after pleading guilty to two counts under the Road Traffic Act and one count under the Motor Vehicles Act.
Apart from failing to keep a proper lookout, Bhagwan’s offences also relate to the fact he was also driving without a valid licence as he had not properly submitted the requisite medical certificate upon turning 65.
Bhagwan was also disqualified from holding or obtaining all classes of driving licences for 12 months, and disqualified for another eight years following his release.
According to court documents prepared by Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Yanying, Bhagwan has not held a valid driving licence since Aug 23, 2018, when he turned 65.
On the afternoon of Dec 27, 2021, Bhagwan was driving his van along Jurong Port road, in the direction of Corporation Road.
When he turned into the slip road to Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim, Bhagwan failed to slow down as he approached the zebra crossing and struck Khan Suruj, a construction worker, who was riding his bicycle.
The impact caused Khan, 54, to fly off his bicycle and land a short distance away.
Mr Eugene Loo, who witnessed the accident, stopped his vehicle by the side of the road to render assistance to Khan, who was lying face down and motionless on the road.
While Mr Loo called for an ambulance, another passer-by stopped to help Khan who was bleeding from his ears and nose.
Mr Loo also flagged down a passing police car whose officers later reported the accident.
During investigations, Bhagwan told police that the first time he noticed Khan was from the impact of the collision.
Video footage from Mr Loo’s in-vehicle camera showed that Khan’s bicycle had already gone onto the zebra crossing before Bhagwan’s van reached the stop line at the crossing.
Khan flew off his bicycle and hit the van’s windscreen before he landed face up near the middle of the slip road.
However, Khan’s body ended up lying face down on the road after the van ran over his legs when it continued travelling forward.
Khan was pronounced dead on Dec 28, 2021 due to traumatic injuries and an autopsy was conducted the next day when it was certified that Khan’s cause of death was a head injury.
‘FAILURE TO KEEP A LOOKOUT’
District Judge John Ng said that the court’s approach to sentencing has to focus not on the intention but more on the consequence.
“No decent driver wants to get into any traffic accident and no one wants to make any mistakes leading to the death of another human being,” said the judge.
He added that the main failure of Bhagwan was his failure to keep a lookout and not slowing down at the slip road as he approached the zebra crossing.
However, the judge noted that the deceased had reduced Bhagwan’s culpability somewhat by not stopping and looking for oncoming traffic before using the zebra crossing, as required by the road rules.
Although this mitigating circumstance is not as significant, the judge said this had reduced the time and opportunity for Bhagwan to spot Khan at the zebra crossing.
For causing death to another person by driving, Bhagwan could have been jailed for up to three years and fined up to S$10,000. This could also include a disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving licence for eight years.
For driving without a valid licence, Bhagwan could have been jailed for up to three years and fined up to S$10,000. This could also include a disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving licence for life.
For driving without valid insurance, Bhagwan could have been jailed for up to three months and fined up to S$1,000, or both. This also includes a disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving licence for 12 months from the date of conviction.