'Mental state of driver is important'
Should cabby prone to memory lapses be allowed on the roads?
A cabby whose vehicle hit another taxi and then overturned later claimed that he has a medical condition.
TransCab cabby Toh Chwee Boh, 54, told The New Paper that he had become prone to memory lapses after suffering a head injury in a road accident in 2012.
As a result, he often drives his passengers to the wrong locations.
The stress of being verbally abused by two male passengers after such an incident led to the accident in Pasir Ris in the early hours of last Wednesday, he said.
MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Ang Hin Kee, who is in the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said Mr Toh should not be driving in his condition.
He said vocational drivers are sometimes forced to remain in their line of work to make a living.
"But given his condition, and regardless of whatever pressure he may face, the sensible thing is not for him to drive," Mr Ang said.
"There are other ways to deal with these pressures."
SAFETY EXPERT SAYS:
Road safety expert Gerard Pereira, the manager of the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, said a driver's mental health is as vital as his physical health.
"The mental state of a driver is very important. If he cannot remember the routes, he's having trouble concentrating on the roads.
"If so, it means he could be endangering passengers or pedestrians by driving," he said.
Mr Pereira said drivers with such conditions could be hard to detect.
"It is important that doctors are proactive when they see such patients. They should find out the profession of their patients and then assess if they are fit for their jobs," he said.
CAB COMPANY SAYS:
TransCab said it was standing by Mr Toh.
Said its spokesman: "He was certified by a doctor. We leave it to the doctors to make the call whether our drivers are fit to drive."
She added that taxi drivers above 50, such as Mr Toh, are required to go for a medical check-up every year.
She also said Mr Toh had filed a report and TransCab had gone through it.
The police said on Sunday that no one had been arrested and that both drivers involved in the accident are assisting with their investigations.
He was certified by a doctor. We leave it to the doctors to make the call whether our drivers are fit to drive.
- A TransCab spokesman
ABOUT THE CASE
Mr Toh told TNP last Wednesday that his two passengers were angry after they realised he had taken them to the wrong place. They verbally abused him even after he offered to forgo the fare.
Initially claiming he could not remember what happened after he let the men out behind a stationary CityCab, he later said his vehicle had knocked into the rear of the CityCab.
When he tried to brake, he stepped on the accelerator instead. All he remembered next was his vehicle speeding forward and overturning.
Mr Toh, who was trapped inside with minor cuts, was rescued by four passers-by.
He said he could not work for about a year after his 2012 accident and started driving a taxi again only earlier this year.
He said: "I make it a point to pick up customers who are going only to places I am familiar with. I also try not to drive above 70kmh."
He said he tried using a Global Positioning System navigation device, but gave up because he could not figure out how to use it.
Mr Toh, who starts his relief shift at about 6pm every day, said he ends his shift by about 1am.