Toddler dashes into path of car
Imagine cruising down the road at night when a toddler suddenly appears in front of your car.
The driver's reaction was like that of many who saw his video. They ranged from shock, to dismay, to disgust at the child's parent for letting the child loose on the road.
Almost all parents who were shown the video reacted with horror.
The incident occurred at Bedok North Road, believed to be within a school zone, at 8.51pm last Friday.
In the video uploaded online by the driver's son, known only as Brendon, a little boy in pink shorts and a blue top dashes across a signalised pedestrian crossing, even as the traffic light for cars continued to flash green.
He is barely taller than the car's bonnet.
Fortunately, the driver notices the boy, illuminated by the car's lights, from a near-fatal distance of about 2m.
He slams on the brakes and stops a metre away from the running boy.
But the danger is not over.
A taxi next to the car is also hurtling in the direction of the boy on the two-lane road.
The honking of the first car alerts the taxi driver, who stops just inches away from the boy.
The toddler turns around and totters away, seemingly unmoved by or unaware of his brush with death.
A woman can be seen anxiously running after the child after the vehicles stopped.
The video was shared yesterday morning on the Facebook page of streetdirectory.com.
It went viral immediately, attracting 4,000 shares by press time.
Road safety experts urge caution
Parents must be acutely aware that their young children face unpredictable dangers on the road.
And drivers must in turn be as acutely aware that children can be unpredictable.
Road safety experts, reacting to the straying child shown in the video, were aghast.
Said driving safety expert Gerard Pereira: "It's the parents' fault because at that age, you don't know what is happening. If the parents were holding the child, it won't happen.
"I have seen in the heartland, in unforeseen circumstances, a caregiver having three children to take care of. It is impossible to hold on to all of them."
Added Mr Gopinath Menon, vice-chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council: "I think toddlers have no idea of when to cross the road because they can't judge the distance or the danger, so parents should always hold their hands."
Mr Pereira, the manager at the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, also feels that drivers, "especially those in the heartland areas", should travel slowly, at a speed of "30 to 50kmh".
"Although the official speed limit is usually 60kmh in the heartland, there is high human traffic.
"Drivers should look out for children, especially younger ones, and reduce speed to prevent accidents.
"If you drive fast, even if you notice the child and try to avoid him, you may end up hitting another vehicle because you cannot brake fast enough."
Drivers must know that children do not follow pedestrian rules, road safety experts told The New Paper.
Mr Pereira added: "Drivers must always be on the lookout for possible dangers."
"If you see a child by the edge of the kerb, anticipate that they may do something wrong and slow down."
Mr Pereira felt that the child was lucky to escape unhurt.
"The driver was very lucky to have seen the child, even though it was at night," he said.
'It's really terrible!'
Shocking. Scary. Terrible!
That was the reaction of parents when The New Paper shared with them a video of a toddler who dashed into the path of a car.
The parents were aghast. And at least one wanted to give the toddler's parents a piece of her mind.
"If I were there, I would probably scold the parent for being totally irresponsible," said Mrs Sharon Chow, a 46-year-old mother of three children aged five, 14 and 16.
She added: "It's really terrible! I was very shocked when I saw the video. My first reaction on seeing the video was, 'Where's the parent?'"
Mrs Chow said it was a long time before the woman appeared, running after the child.
She added: "That means that the child must have wandered quite far."
"It is the parents' responsibility to show their children how to cross safely and set an example."
Mrs Novi Liu, a 39-year-old housewife, part-time tutor and mother of three children aged five, nine and 11, said she was shocked when she saw the video.
"My first thought was, 'Why is the child running around alone at night?'"
She immediately shared the video with her husband as a cautionary tale.
She makes sure she holds her children's hands whenever they are near a road.
"I will hold my youngest son's hand and tell him to pay attention when crossing," she said.
"It's really scary!" said Mrs Joanna Foo, 33, who has three children aged six, four and 18 months. "Such a close call."
All the parents who spoke to TNP agreed that the responsibility to protect children is with caregivers.
"It's very irresponsible for the parents not to hold onto the toddler when crossing the road," said Mr Jeremy Lei, 30, father of a year-old boy.
He always carries his son when crossing the road.
Mrs Liu agreed: "It's not the child's fault because at that age, they won't know anything."
All the parents we spoke to teach their children about road safety to minimise accidents.
"I tell them cautionary tales about road safety so they better understand the consequences," Mrs Liu said.
Still, parents' efforts can never be foolproof.
Mrs Foo said: "Sometimes I worry that my children may dash across the road if their ball rolls over or something.
"It's hard to get them to follow road safety rules, especially the younger ones."
Mrs Liu said: "It is difficult. You have to keep reminding children about road safety because they may forget.
"I have no right to question the mother or caregiver about what happened. But if I could speak to her, I would want to find out why this boy was allowed to run off by himself.
"I hope this is a one-time incident."
It's very irrespon-sible for the parents not to hold on to the toddler when crossing the road.
- Mr Jeremy Lei, 30, father of a one-year-old boy
BY THE numbers
The number of children aged 12 and below who were injured in road accidents in the first three months of this year. This is a jump from the 45 children in the same period last year, the Traffic Police revealed at the launch of this year's Singapore Road Safety Month on April 26.
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