- The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill was introduced for First Reading in Parliament today. The Bill introduces amendments to the Road Traffic Act (“RTA”) to enhance criminal penalties and tighten the regulatory regime to deter irresponsible driving.
Enhancing Criminal Penalties
- To deter irresponsible driving, MHA plans to enhance criminal penalties, especially for offences where the motorist exhibits egregious driving behaviour and causes serious harm to the victim. MHA plans to do so by imposing heavier imprisonment terms and fines, as follows:
- Introduce two classes of irresponsible driving offences – Reckless or Dangerous Driving (“Dangerous Driving”) and Driving Without Due Care or Reasonable Consideration (“Careless Driving”) – in the RTA, which correspond broadly to Rash Act and Negligent Act in the Penal Code. These offences will be further categorised into four tiers catering to different levels of harm caused, i.e. Death, Grievous Hurt, Hurt and Endangers Life (i.e. no hurt caused).
- Each Dangerous or Careless Driving offence will be punishable with a longer maximum imprisonment term and a higher maximum fine, where applicable, than the corresponding Rash Act or Negligent Act offence in the Penal Code.
- Any motorist who commits a Dangerous or Careless Driving offence under the influence of alcohol or drugs (“DUI”) will be liable for additional penalties.
- Mandatory Minimum Sentences (“MMS”) for imprisonment will be imposed for the most egregious irresponsible driving offences, e.g. where the motorist drives dangerously or while under the influence of alcohol, and causes Death or Grievous Hurt.
- The maximum penalties and MMS for repeat offenders will be higher than those for first-time offenders.
- MHA also plans to keep irresponsible drivers off the roads for a longer period, and in a more timely manner through:
- Expanding the range of offences for which minimum disqualification (“DQ”) periods will be imposed. Also, the existing minimum DQ period for the offence of DUI will be increased.
- Expanding the range of offences for which we will immediately suspend the licence of the offender. This will prevent irresponsible motorists from driving until the Courts have decided on their case.
- Increasing the penalties for Driving without Licence, or while under DQ or suspension.
- Broadening the range of offences for which forfeiture of vehicle may apply.
Tightening Regulatory Regime
- MHA plans to tighten the regulatory regime to deter risk-taking behaviour on the road, as follows:
- Streamline the licence suspension and revocation process for motorists who accumulate more than the maximum allowable demerit points. Motorists will have a four-week period to appeal against the suspension or revocation. The suspension or revocation will take effect after four weeks, unless the appeal is successful.
- Allow Traffic Police (“TP“) to suspend a motorist’s licence for up to five years, up from three years currently. This will apply only to motorists who have five or more prior suspensions.
- Clarify that the Courts are allowed to consider a motorist’s record of relevant past compounded offences as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. A motorist’s driving record is a useful indicator of his driving behaviour.
Updating Obligations of Motorists Involved in Accidents with Animals
- At present, when involved in an accident with an animal, a motorist is required to stop the vehicle, take steps to contact the owner of the animal, and render assistance at the accident scene. However, these requirements only apply for a specified list of animals such as horses, cattle, pigs, goats and dogs.
- MHA will amend the RTA to require a motorist to stop the vehicle if he has reasonable ground to believe that the animal involved in the accident has an owner or that the presence of the injured or dead animal on the road may pose a hazard to other road users. The motorist will be required to contact the owner of the animal and provide his particulars, as well as to alert other motorists of any road hazard posed by the animal. The requirements will no longer be limited to any particular species of animal.
Feedback from Public Engagement
- Between 21 February and 13 March 2019, MHA conducted public engagement through REACH to seek feedback on the proposed amendments to the RTA. MHA also engaged stakeholders from various road user groups, including the Singapore Road Safety Council, the National Taxi Association and the National Transport Workers’ Union.
- The public was largely supportive of the proposed changes. Many of the respondents saw the changes as timely and necessary.
- Some respondents expressed concern over the possibility that motorists would be held liable for the enhanced penalties even when the victim, in particular a pedestrian, cyclist or PMD rider, was at fault for causing an accident. During the engagements, MHA explained that the basis for higher penalties is that motorists, being in control of a vehicle that they know can potentially cause significant harm to other road users, ought to exercise greater care and responsibility. MHA also provided assurance that, when assessing whether a motorist should be held liable for an accident, TP will consider whether the motorist had been driving safely. If the motorist had been driving safely, no action will be taken against the motorist. In addition, if the victim had engaged in risk-taking behaviour and violated traffic rules, TP will take the necessary enforcement action against him.
- MHA would like to thank all respondents for taking the time and effort to provide their feedback on the proposed changes.
 Examples of egregious driving include drink driving, driving against the flow of traffic, swerving across lanes at high speed, and speeding past pedestrian crossings when one does not have the right of way. Serious harm refers to Death and Grievous Hurt.
 Motorists who have five prior suspensions will face a suspension period of four years. Motorists who have six or more prior suspensions will face a suspension period of five years.