Worries over flying debris and railings in car accidents
Some more worried now about projectiles after recent car crash sent broken railing pieces flying
He enjoys alfresco dining and often eats at roadside coffee shops in Little India and Upper Thomson Road.
But after witnessing an accident near the Roti Prata House at Upper Thomson Road a week ago, a taxi driver who wanted to be known only as Mr Richard, 49, is avoiding the seats outside eateries that are near the road.
In the accident, a car had crashed into a metal railing about 5m from the restaurant, causing shards to land close to customers sitting outside.
Two diners, the car driver and a passenger were injured.
The cabby initially thought the victims were hurt by parts of the railing.
He said: "The impact of the crash must have caused parts of the railing to fly. There was a lot of blood and I thought the sharp parts must have hit someone."
It was reported by Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News that the injured were hit by debris from the car's shattered windscreen.
Mr Richard, who was seated inside the restaurant with his two young children that day, is still concerned.
"Perhaps the design of such railings could be changed for safety," he said.
Experts noted that these railings are not meant to withstand the impact of a vehicle.
National University of Singapore Civil and Environmental Engineering department's associate professor Chin Hoong Chor said the railing that was dislodged was a pedestrian railing - meant to keep pedestrians within the footpath.
President of the Institution of Engineers, Mr Chong Kee Sen, noted that although it was not designed to do so, the railing had "provided some restraint".
"The accident could have been worse as the car could have crashed into the eatery."
So should the design of such railings be changed, considering its parts could become a projectile in the rare instance that a car crashes into it?
It was previously reported that the driver was making an illegal U-turn when she hit a car and lost control. She was trying to avoid a bus nearby when she hit the railing.
Mr Chong, a civil engineer, thinks a review could be made to re-assess if vehicle impact barriers are required in the area.
"In general, a vehicle impact railing would have to yield so as to absorb the impact from a colliding vehicle," he said.
"This means that it should not be too stiff as it could then cause serious injuries to the people who are in the vehicle.
"In any case, it is still possible for there to be debris projectiles from the railing, the impact vehicle or other road furniture."
Assoc Prof Chin, who is also an accredited road safety auditor, thinks the distance between the railing and the nearby eatery acts as a buffer.
He added: "The customers are more exposed to the vehicles using the adjacent travel lane, though they are travelling at a lower speed than the vehicles on Upper Thomson Road."
He said that road users along Thomson Road or Upper Thomson Road - whether residents, drivers, workers or customers - should be more alert in the next few years because of the roadworks due to the upcoming MRT lines.
"The road layout will be constantly changed to accommodate the roadworks and many drivers and pedestrians will find themselves in less familiar settings," he said.
"This could result in a higher chance of them making mistakes or haphazard decisions and even hazardous manoeuvres."
The impact of the crash must have caused parts of the railing to fly. There was a lot of blood and I thought the sharp parts must have hit someone.
- A cabby, who wanted to be known as Mr Richard, on the accident outside a restaurant in Upper Thomson (above) last Sunday