Written Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Review of Whether Owners of Ill-maintained Vehicles Should Be Criminally Liable for Accidents Due to Mechanical Failure of Their Vehicles

Published: 12 January 2022


Mr Murali Pillai: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether there is any update on the review of whether owners of ill-maintained vehicles should be made criminally liable for the fatal and injury-causing accidents arising from the mechanical failure of their vehicles.


Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:

1.   The Member had raised this issue last year during the Second Reading of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill. MHA had replied that we would review it with MOT. 

2.   Currently, the Penal Code allows us to take vehicle owners to task, if their negligence in maintaining their vehicle led to fatal or injury-causing accidents. For the liability to attach, the negligence must be the proximate or efficient cause of the accident. This means that if the offender’s negligence in vehicle maintenance was a substantial cause of the accident which led to death or injury, he would be liable for an offence.

3.   MHA is of the view that the current threshold is a fair one. We should only attach criminal liability if we can prove that the offender was negligent in maintaining his vehicle, and that this in turn caused the accident.

4.   The Member may also wish to note that the large majority of road traffic accidents involving fatalities or injuries are caused by behavioural factors, such as dangerous driving, careless driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol, rather than poorly maintained vehicles. This is because we have a robust regulatory regime in place to ensure that vehicles are maintained in roadworthy condition. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) requires all vehicles to be regularly inspected at LTA-Authorised Inspection Centres. These inspections are comprehensive, covering key vehicle components and systems including brakes, steering, tyres and exhaust systems.

5.   We thank the Member for raising this suggestion, and will continue to monitor the road traffic situation.