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A motorcycle and its rider lies on the road, a victim of the rain and slippery conditions. Cars are slowing down and traffic is building up.
In the midst of the chaos, a man wearing a neon yellow vest is calmly directing traffic. A bright orange triangle sits on the road, pre-empting oncoming drivers to move out of the way. His car is parked a few metres away, hazard lights blinking.
He seems like a seasoned professional. But Aaron Pok is just another driver on the road.
He recounts the incident that rainy day last November: “The motorcyclist was on the road, and there was a woman holding an umbrella to shelter him from the rain. So, I directed the traffic to prevent traffic from hitting them.”
“So, how often do you do this?” we ask the 42-year-old civil servant, who got his driving licence in 1999.
“Oh, I think around two to three times a month,” he replies casually.
“My wife calls me a kaypoh,” he adds with a laugh.
Good Samaritan on the road
Helping others on the road has become a second habit for the seasoned driver. In fact, whenever Aaron sees a broken-down vehicle, he will stop if possible.
He explains that he has seen enough accidents on the road not to turn a blind eye to those in need of help – especially when they seem to not know what to do.
He says: “I don’t want to drive past someone who has broken down, then see news of that driver being hit by a vehicle the next day.”
Aaron does this so often that he even has a standard operating procedure. A casual look into the boot of his car and you’ll see an impressive amount of road marshalling equipment!
When Aaron spots a driver in distress, he will stop his car nearby and place his orange cones a distance away behind the stalled vehicle.
“I put them down to pre-empt other drivers. It’s to make sure if anything, people hit the cones instead of the car.”
Downplaying his technical abilities as “simple skills to help people”, Aaron helps motorists change tyres, jumpstarts cars and even directs traffic during accidents.
Aaron emphasises providing comfort before professional assistance arrives.
“I usually ask ‘Are you ok? Do you need help?’, before I do anything.”
If the car is on the expressway, he would call the EMAS (Expressway Monitoring Advisory System) vehicle recovery service that will help tow the affected vehicle to the nearest designated carpark free of charge.
“I just hope to prevent further accidents.”
Aaron explains that motorists are exposed to danger when they are stranded on the expressway, and the risk of an accident is amplified whenever visibility is low – such as in rainy conditions or at night.
His wife Bobilia is so used to her husband’s shenanigans as he ferries her to and from work that she even documents the moments on Facebook!
Stopping to help others sometimes means that she ends up being late for work or for appointments, but she sees meaning in her husband’s “hobby”.
“Every time she sees me looking at the road shoulder she will ask, ‘你又要去帮忙啊?’ (Chinese for ‘you’re going to help again, right?’)”, Aaron laughs.
Sometimes she would wait in the car. Other times, she would assist her husband with directing traffic, orange light stick in hand, as he works on the stalled vehicle.
Aaron has become so used to being teased about his “weird addiction” from his family and friends that he was surprised when the Traffic Police caught wind of what he was doing.
In 2016, he was introduced to TP’s road ambassador programme. Since then, he has taken part in road safety events and anti-drink driving campaigns. For his efforts, Aaron was awarded the Commander’s Traffic Police Award in 2017 and Road Safety Champion Award in 2020.
Regardless of his awards, Aaron is still the happiest when he is helping others on the road.
With Chinese New Year coming up, most people would be trying their luck at buying lottery tickets at Singapore Pools, but for Aaron, his idea of “winning” is slightly different.
His face lights up as he recalled one incident: “It was like I 中头奖 (Chinese for ‘hit the jackpot’) when I helped people twice in two days, back-to-back.”
On consecutive days in October 2020, Aaron helped to push a broken-down van to the side of the road and changed flat tyres for two different vehicles.
He laughs at his luck: “The two cars were at the same place, same time. Only five metres apart leh.”
Of course, kindness isn’t a one-way street. Aaron has received his fair share of kindness as a motorist.
He recalls once, when he was unable to start his car, a neighbour who was passing by helped him with a jumpstart. The irony was that the resident helped Aaron the same way he had helped another motorist exactly a week before that.
“What goes around comes around,” says Aaron, merrily.
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But what happens if your car breaks down and you’re not fortunately enough to bump into a helpful person like Aaron?
In such cases, Aaron advises: “The key thing when your vehicle breaks down is not to stay in the vehicle. It can be very dangerous.”
Place your triangular vehicle breakdown sign (every car should have one, says Aaron) a distance behind your vehicle and call for a tow. If possible, it’s best to wait behind a roadside barrier or on a road shoulder out of the way of traffic.
If you see any accidents on the road, you can also call these helplines (when it is safe to call!)
Traffic Accident Hotlines
- EMAS 1800-2255 582
- Ambulance 995
- Non-Emergency Ambulance 1777
- Police 999
- Traffic Police 6547 0000