Bill passed to boost LTA’s enforcement efforts, set new fire standard for PMDs [TODAY Online]

Improving safety on public pathways and roads


ltaenforcement

SINGAPORE — The authorities will get to enhance its enforcement capacity and improve safety on public pathways and roads with the passing of the Land Transport (Enforcement Measures) Bill in Parliament on Monday (Sept 10).

The Land Transport Authority, for instance, will be able to allow outsourced personnel to join its ranks of more than 50 officers to enforce regulations against errant cyclists and users of personal mobility devices (PMDs). It will also get to serve notices electronically, instead of solely through hard-copy letters.

The Ministry of Transport said that it will announce when these measures will take effect at a later date.

Other proposals in the Bill that were passed include tougher penalties for damages to public infrastructure by road users, and a requirement for e-scooter riders to register their devices, with the ruling set to take effect from early next year. Their devices must also display a registration mark and identification mark. Details on this new procedure will be announced by the end of this year.

The number of reported accidents involving PMDs has been growing sharply. In 2015, there were 19 such accidents, but this rose to 42 in 2016 and 128 last year. Since May 2018, more than 1,300 offences have been recorded, with several errant riders hauled to court.

Not only that, the cases of e-scooter fires have also been rising, so a PMD fire safety standard, UL2272, was introduced on Monday as well.

Speaking in Parliament during the second reading of the Bill, Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State Transport, said that there have been more than 80 fire incidents involving motorised PMDs since 2016.

"LTA has studied the safety standards available today, and determined that the UL2272 standard is suitable for application for motorised PMDs in Singapore," he said.

From July next year, retailers will be banned from selling PMDs that do not meet the UL2272 standard, which is developed by an independent American certification company.

"Existing owners of motorised PMDs which are not UL2272-compliant can continue to use their devices until end-2020," Dr Lam added.

Earlier this year, the Singapore Civil Defence Force reported that the number of fires involving e-scooters shot up more than 300 per cent, with nine cases in 2016 to 40 last year. The rechargeable lithium ion batteries, used by most e-scooters, e-bicycles and PMDs, are known to have high energy density and flammable internal materials.

During the debate in Parliament on Monday, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Dennis Tan and Mr Louis Ng, Member of Parliament (MP) for Nee Soon GRC, raised questions about situations when there are changes in ownership, including when the PMDs are no longer in use.

Dr Lam said that in the event a PMD is sold, the onus is on the seller to transfer the registration to the buyer. "If the registrant has ceased to use the PMD, there is currently no legal obligation for him to de-register the PMD. However, it is in his interest to do so, as he would otherwise continue to be held responsible for the PMD."

 

RIDERS' INSURANCE, USE OF MOBILE PHONES

Of the 12 MPs who debated the Bill, a few called for third-party liability insurance for riders to be made mandatory.

Mr Zainal Sapari, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said: "An accident is an experience that could be very traumatising for those involved, (and) issues like compensation and civil lawsuits can further complicate the situation.

"Already in Japan, Osaka and Nagoya require riders to have liability insurance as a condition for riding in the city."

However, Dr Lam said that the Active Mobility Advisory Panel had considered the impact of mandatory insurance on the diverse group of riders in Singapore, and determined that the prevention of accidents was more crucial.

The panel was formed in 2015 to look into the rules and norms for the sharing of pathways. In its recommendations released on Aug 24, it said that making insurance compulsory "may significantly reduce the uptake of active mobility" and that "greater focus should be placed on the upstream prevention of accidents". Instead, it "strongly encourages" voluntary purchase of such insurance.

Dr Lee Bee Wah, MP for Nee Soon GRC, as well as Nominated Members of Parliament Randolph Tan and K Thanaletchimi raised some potential areas for review, such as the issue of pillion riders, restrictions on the use of mobile phones for PMD riders, and an incentive-based system to encourage safe riding.

Dr Lam told the House: "While these issues lie outside the scope of this Bill, I assure members we will work closely with (the Active Mobility Advisory Panel) to continually review our active mobility rules and regulations and will take these suggestions into account when discussing the key areas of review with (the panel)."

 

LIMITATIONS IN ENFORCEMENT

As for errant retailers selling non-compliant PMDs, the LTA has been taking enforcement action against them. The authority has also engaged online marketplace operators to remove postings that advertise non-compliant devices.

Dr Lam added that some online retailers are based overseas which limits LTA's ability to take enforcement action against them.

Besides addressing concerns about active mobility, the Bill also makes it an offence for road users who recklessly or negligently damage public infrastructure, with a fine of up to S$50,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months. Before this, this was not considered an offence.

Separately, for those who cause intentional damage, the maximum fine is raised from S$10,000 to S$100,000.

These amendments, Dr Lam said, will allow LTA to be more effective in enforcing, managing and regulating the transport system.

"The increased use of active mobility in recent years has required LTA to step up its enforcement efforts to strike the right balance between promoting active mobility and ensuring the safety of other users of public paths and roads," he said.

"This (Bill) will provide a better and safer transport landscape for all Singaporeans."

 

Source: TODAY Online


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