Tower Transit bus driver fell asleep, hit lorry picking up men by roadside

Wan Ting Koh
·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Singapore's State Courts seen on 21 April 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — A Tower Transit bus driver fell asleep at the steering wheel while plying a service route in an early morning shift in 2018.

Gwee Kim Han, 48, who had only slept five hours before beginning his shift, only woke up right before he crashed into a lorry that was picking up passengers by the side of the road. 

The impact of the collision caused some of the workers to be flung off the lorry. Two of the nine injured have permanent injuries. 

Gwee was jailed for two weeks on Wednesday (5 May), and given a two-year driving ban after he pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to four men through a negligent act. Another charge of causing hurt to five men in the same accident was taken into consideration for sentencing. 

The Singaporean had been a bus driver with Tower Transit from 28 March 2016 to 21 March 2018, and had been assigned to ply the bus 143 route since June 2016. 

As part of his training, Gwee was reminded not to drive when he was sleepy and was taught how to manage his fatigue. 

On the night of 15 March 2018, Gwee slept at 9pm but woke at 2am to report for his shift. He began his shift at 3am on 16 March 2018, but felt tired and sleepy due to the short amount of time he had slept. 

At 6.24am, as Gwee was driving his double decker bus along the extreme left lane of Pasir Panjang Road towards Jalan Buroh. He fell asleep while driving around the vicinity of Hakim Restaurant, located at 91 Pasir Panjang Road. When he woke up, he realised that he was about to collide with a stationary lorry on the left side of the lane. This lorry was picking up passengers.

The bus rammed into the lorry, causing some passengers to be flung off. The lorry rolled forward onto the pavement and came to a stop, while Gwee swerved and braked. 

The accident was captured on a Land Transport Authority parking enforcement camera.

Of the fours victims, aged 49 to 60, in Gwee's proceeded charge, one was assessed to have permanent limitations to wrist movement, while one still has weakness in his left hand. All four suffered from multiple fractures to various parts of their body. 

The bus had its windscreen shattered, and its right side was crumpled, with its centre portion ripped off. One of its glass doors was also shattered. The lorry's rear was dented. 

Deputy Public Prosecutor Melina Chew sought at least three weeks' jail and a three-year ban from driving.  

As part of his mitigation, Gwee's lawyer Cory Wong said his client had pleaded guilty, was a first offender, rendered assistance at the scene, and had been cooperative.

He told the court that he had been instructed to ask for not more than a week's jail. 

For causing grievous hurt through a negligent act, Gwee may have been jailed up to two years, fined, or both. 

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