Inconsiderate driving results in baby's death

Inconsiderate driving results in baby's death
FOR SAFETY: Since Jan 1, 2012, anyone under the height of 1.35m, regardless of age, must be secured in child restraints, booster seats (above) or adjustable seat belts when travelling in a vehicle.

Concerned for his baby daughter, he drove her to KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) as she was unwell.

Sadly, they crashed on the way home.

The 1½-year-old girl was rushed back to KKH where she later died.

The father, Alfred Ng Hon Lum, 30, was fined $800 and banned from driving for three months yesterday after pleading guilty to one count of inconsiderate driving.

The court heard that after the hospital visit on Sept 22 last year, Ng had driven his silver Nissan Latio in the extreme left lane of the four-lane Central Expressway towards Seletar Expressway and then made his way to a slip road into Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

His wife, who was expecting their second child, was sitting in the front passenger seat and cradling the girl.

Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) Asran Samad said that Ng failed to keep a proper lookout and crashed into the rear of a stationary SBS bus around 8.40am.

Investigations revealed that the bus driver, Mr Li He Zuo, had driven the off-service bus out of the Bishan Depot and was supposed to go to a bus stop along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

When he reached the slip road, he switched on the hazard lights and stopped in the extreme left lane of the three-lane road.

APP Asran said: "Li stopped in order to change the service label to service number 55.

"He stopped for a few minutes and was about to move off when the accused collided into the rear of the motor bus."

He added that during the crash, the weather was fine, the road surface was dry, visibility was clear and the traffic was light.

The authorities were notified and an ambulance took the little girl back to KKH.

She was found to be suffering from multiple injuries, including bleeding from her nose and mouth, skull fractures and signs of brain stem dysfunction. She died of a head injury three days later.

MITIGATION

In mitigation, Ng's lawyer, Mr Anand Nalachandran, told District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam that the facts and circumstances of the case were exceptional.

He said his client's concentration was compromised during the accident as he was concerned for his pregnant wife and their daughter.

The court heard that Ng later made a difficult decision to turn off the baby's life support in hospital.

The lawyer also said that his client suffered from a major depressive disorder following the accident.

For inconsiderate driving, Ng could have been jailed up to six months and fined up to $1,00

EXPERT: DON'T LET KIDS SIT IN FRONT

Having young children sitting in the front seat of cars is unacceptable, said road safety expert Gerard Pereira.

And just because their parents are cradling them does not mean they are safe, he said.

Mr Pereira, 57, operations manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, said: "I've seen so many parents sitting in the front passenger seat with their children in their arms.

"These parents don't understand how dangerous it can be. The child may crash into the dashboard or even fly out of the windscreen."

Mr Pereira also pointed out that while cars are fitted with airbags, they may cause more harm than good to a child.

"When activated, the airbag may suffocate or injure young children as their heads are very delicate."

VULNERABLE

Dr Andrea Yeo, a consultant with the National University Hospital's Children Emergency Department, said the head, neck and internal organs in the abdomen are the most vulnerable areas of young children in an accident.

"Children can sustain fatal injuries if they are not properly restrained while travelling in a motor vehicle," she said.

"Even in non-fatal cases, they can sustain serious injuries to the head, spine or internal organs."

Since Jan 1, 2012, anyone under the height of 1.35m, regardless of age, must be secured in child restraints, booster seats or adjustable seat belts when travelling in a vehicle.

First-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed up to three months.

Mr Pereira advised parents to wait for their children to hit 1.35m before putting them in the front seat.

He also recommended that infants should be placed in rear-facing car seats until they turn two.

He explained: "Rear-facing seats offer the most protection as the infant will not fly out of the car seat upon impact."

Mr Pereira offered parents this general rule of thumb: "The younger the children are, the farther back they should sit in the car."

Other cases

OCTOBER 2014

A 2 ½-month-old boy died of severe traumatic brain injury after he was involved in an accident at North Buona Vista Road. He was being breastfed by his mother at the back of their car when it was hit by another car driven by a 21-year-old probationary driver.

MARCH 2008

A Singaporean family of five was travelling along Malaysia's North-South Highway when their car skidded and crashed into three trees. A two-year-old boy, along with his parents and grandmother, died. The only survivor was his two-month-old sister, who escaped with just a scratch


This article was first published on June 4, 2015.
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