Two Singaporeans critically hurt in car crash off Melbourne
Two S'poreans critically hurt in car crash in Australia. Local journalist says of accident site: There have been many near-misses
Five Singaporeans travelling in a grey Nissan Qashqai were involved in a car accident on Tuesday in the Australian town of Laharum, Victoria.
The crash left two of them critically injured.
The town, which is about 300km from Melbourne, is close to the Grampians National Park, a popular tourist destination.
The sport utility vehicle (SUV) was travelling near the intersection of Wonwondah-Dadswell Bridge Road and Northern Grampians Road around 4.20pm (2.20pm Singapore time) when it collided with another car, a Victoria Police spokesman told The New Paper yesterday.
Three women in the back seat of the SUV, all aged 23, were injured, an Ambulance Victoria spokesman told the Australian media.
Two were critically injured - one had head and leg injuries, while the other had head, chest and spinal injuries, and had to have a blood transfusion on the way to the hospital.
Both women were flown by air ambulance to different hospitals in Melbourne.
POPULAR DESTINATION: The accident happened near Grampians National Park in Victoria.
The third woman had neck and back injuries and was taken to a local hospital in stable condition.
The 24-year-old male driver and the 23-year-old woman in the front passenger seat had minor injuries. The driver of the other car, a 24-year-old Australian woman, was not injured.
The Singaporean driver was charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury and two counts of negligent driving causing serious injury.
The Victoria Police spokesman said that each set of the different charges were for each of the two women who were critically injured.
Yesterday, both women were still in serious condition.
The driver is expected to appear at the Horsham Magistrates' Court on Aug 24 and is out on bail.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of the accident, and was in contact with the Singaporeans and their families.
The Singapore High Commission in Canberra also sent officers to Melbourne to provide consular assistance.
Ms Carly Werner, 28, senior journalist at The Wimmera Mail-Times, which covers the Laharum area, told TNP yesterday that residents in the area said the intersection was dangerous and had wanted the authorities to install more stop signs or rumble strips.
"Most said that they had many near-misses at the intersection because some vehicles were travelling too fast," she said.
Four of the five Singaporeans are believed to be undergrads from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and were members of NUS' Climbing Club.
A friend of one of the critically injured women told TNP she had graduated from NUS this year.
The woman's Facebook account showed a photo posted on Monday of her and three other people at a lookout point in Grampians National Park.
She also posted a video of herself scaling a rock wall in the park.
The friend said the woman had gone for two operations since the accident - one on Wednesday and another yesterday.
After Wednesday's operation, she was in stable condition but was still unconscious and in the intensive care unit, the friend added.
EXPERT: Newbies should not drive overseas
When driving overseas, familiarise yourself with the terrain and road rules, said Mr Bernard Tay, president of the Automobile Association of Singapore(AAS).
Mr Tay, 67, who is also chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council, said: "Having a GPS (Global Positioning System) is not enough, you need to do lots of research and planning. Different countries have different road rules and 'driving culture'."
Singaporeans who plan to drive overseas should also talk to those who have travelled to the country before.
Don't assume that there will fewer cars on country and rural roads.
"Some rural roads might have animals crossing. That's something we don't see in urban Singapore."
Mr Tay said that besides preparing documents like travel insurance and an international driving permit, drivers should also rent their vehicles from reputable rental companies.
"I don't recommend that new drivers drive overseas. You should be of a certain 'skill' before you do.
"You should also know your strengths as a driver. So if you get tired easily, it will help if you plan your routes beforehand, so you know where to stop overnight or for a bite."
Overseas road accidents involving S'poreans
A 29-year-old Singaporean was charged with dangerous driving after causing a four-car collision in North Otago, New Zealand. A 39-year-old motorcyclist was killed and five others were injured, including the car driver's passenger, who had serious injuries.
A 32-year-old Singaporean was charged in court when his rented car hit a four-wheel-drive in Christchurch, New Zealand. He had to pay NZ$10,000 (S$9,200) to the two injured passengers in his car and was banned from driving there for 18 months.
A 26-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to one year and nine months' jail for causing a car accident that killed an 82-year-old man in South Otago, New Zealand. After an appeal in Dunedin, he had his jail sentence reduced to home detention.