21 Feb 2019

Strengthening Deterrence Against Irresponsible Driving

 1. The Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”) plans to strengthen deterrence against irresponsible driving, through enhancing criminal penalties and raising composition sums for road traffic offences.

Background

2. In recent years, Traffic Police (“TP”) and the Land Transport Authority (“LTA”) have significantly stepped up efforts to improve road safety (please see Annex A). Correspondingly, the number of road traffic accidents has decreased. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of fatal accidents and number of injury accidents were respectively 22.0% and 3.6% lower than that for the preceding five years.

 

3. However, irresponsible driving remains a concern. There are still many instances of motorists who drive or ride irresponsibly, putting other road users’ lives at risk. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of feedback submitted by members of the public to TP on irresponsible driving more than doubled, from 6,900 to 18,500. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of summonses issued by TP rose by a fifth, from 152,700 to 181,000.

 

4. Every fatal or injury accident is one too many. To further improve road safety, MHA has conducted a review of penalties under the Road Traffic Act (“RTA”). At present, the penalties for irresponsible driving are less severe in Singapore compared to some other jurisdictions (please see Annex B for a comparison of penalties for dangerous driving causing death).

 

Enhancing Criminal Penalties

5. To deter irresponsible behaviours by motorists, MHA plans to enhance criminal penalties, especially for serious offences where the motorist exhibits egregious driving behaviour and causes serious harm to the victim.[1] MHA will do so by imposing heavier imprisonment terms and fines.

 

a. MHA will create two classes of irresponsible driving offences – Dangerous Driving and Careless Driving – in the RTA, which correspond broadly to Rash Act and Negligent Act in the Penal Code.[2]

b. Dangerous Driving will be distinguished from Careless Driving through:

i. The manner of driving (e.g. whether the motorist was driving at an excessively high speed, or manoeuvring his vehicle within very close proximity to other vehicles);

ii. Whether the motorist was driving when he was clearly not in a state to drive safely (e.g. when he was sleep-deprived, or not wearing any visual aid when he needed it); and

iii. Whether the situation required the motorist to exercise extra care (e.g. when approaching zebra or pedestrian crossings) but he did not.

 

c. Each offence class of Dangerous Driving and Careless Driving will be further broken down into four tiers catering to different levels of harm caused, i.e. Death, Grievous Hurt, Hurt and Endangers Life (i.e. no hurt caused).[3]

d. Each Dangerous or Careless Driving offence will come 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. The basis for higher penalties is that motorists, being in control of a vehicle that they know can potentially cause great harm to other road users, ought to exercise greater care and responsibility.

e. If a Dangerous or Careless Driving offence was committed while the motorist was driving under the influence (“DUI”) of alcohol or drugs, he will be liable for additional penalties, which will run consecutively.

f. 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.

g. The maximum penalties and MMS terms for repeat offenders will be higher than those for first-time offenders. An individual will be deemed a repeat offender, as long as he has been convicted in Court for any Dangerous/Careless Driving or related offence before.[4]

 

6. MHA also plans to keep irresponsible drivers off the roads, for a longer period, and in a more timely manner.

 

a. MHA will expand the range of offences for which minimum disqualification (“DQ”) periods will be imposed. The existing minimum DQ period for the offence of DUI will also be increased.

b. MHA will also expand the range of offences for which we will immediately suspend the licence of the offender, to include DUI, dangerous driving, and careless driving causing death or grievous hurt. This will prevent irresponsible motorists from driving until the Courts have decided on their case.

c. The penalties for driving while under DQ or suspension will be increased, to bolster the effectiveness of DQ and immediate suspension as deterrents against irresponsible driving.

d. MHA will broaden the range of offences for which the forfeiture of vehicle may apply. At present, the Courts shall, on the application of the Public Prosecutor, make an order for the forfeiture of a vehicle for a select group of offences, i.e. Driving under DQ for the second time or more, and Illegal Speed Trial.[5] MHA will expand the range of eligible offences, to include egregious irresponsible driving offences.

 

7. The key changes outlined in Paragraph 5 and 6 are summarised in Annex C.

8. A public engagement document on the above changes has been posted on REACH, the Government’s feedback portal.

 

9. MHA invites members of the public to submit feedback on the proposed changes via the REACH website or email at RTA_Feedback@mha.gov.sg. The public consultation period is from 21 Feb to 13 Mar 2019.

 

Changes to Composition Sums

 

10. MHA will raise composition sums for various road traffic offences, from 1 Apr 2019.

Motorist Offences

 

11. Composition sums complement criminal penalties in deterring irresponsible driving. It is important to nip unsafe driving in the bud, before serious accidents happen and people are killed or hurt. For road traffic offences that do not involve egregious driving behaviour and do not result in harm caused to others, the offence may be compounded, in lieu of prosecution.

 

12. MHA will raise composition sums for motorist road traffic offences. These composition sums were last reviewed in 2000, almost 20 years ago. Raising the composition sums will ensure that the sums remain effective as a deterrent, and help curb the uptrend in the number of road traffic offences. Please refer to the appended table for the revised sums.

 

Road Traffic Act Offence

Current Composition Sums

Revised Composition Sums

Light Vehicle

Heavy Vehicle

Light Vehicle

Heavy Vehicle

Offences with 0 Demerit Points

E.g. Illegal U-turn

$70

$100

$100

$150

Offences with 3 Demerit Points

E.g. Driver failing to wear seat belt

$120

$150

$150

$200

Offences with 4 Demerit Points

E.g. Crossing double white lines

$130

$160

Offences with 6 Demerit Points

E.g. Driving on the shoulder of an expressway

$150

$180

$200

$250

Offences with 8 or 9 Demerit Points

E.g. Driving without due care or reasonable consideration for other road users

$170

$200

$300

$400

Offences with 12 Demerit Points

E.g. Failure to conform to red light signal

$200

$230

$400

$500

Offences above 12 Demerit Points

E.g. Reckless or dangerous driving

No composition offered, due to severity of offences

 

 

13. The increase in composition sums for offences committed by drivers of heavy vehicles is higher than that for drivers of light vehicles, because heavy vehicles are more likely to cause death or serious injury when they are involved in accidents. Consequently, there is a need for a stronger deterrent. The increase for more serious offences (those that attract eight or more demerit points) will also be greater than the increase for less serious offences.

 

Pedestrian and Cyclist Offences

 

14. MHA will also raise composition sums for pedestrian and cyclist offences. These composition sums have also not been increased for more than 20 years. Please refer to the appended table for the revised sums.

 

Road Traffic Act Offence

Current Composition Sums

Revised Composition Sums

General Pedestrian Offences

E.g. Failing to cross at a pedestrian crossing

$20

$50

Pedestrian Offences at an Expressway

E.g. Entering an expressway tunnel on foot

$30

$75

Cyclist Offences

E.g. Careless riding, not wearing a helmet while riding on the road, failure to conform to red light signal

$20

$75

 

[1] 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 (i.e. injuries with long-lasting impact on the victim).

[2] Irresponsible driving offences have typically been prosecuted under Rash Act and Negligent Act in the Penal Code, as well as Reckless or Dangerous Driving and Driving without Due Care or Reasonable Consideration in the RTA. With the creation of the new offences of Dangerous Driving and Careless Driving in the RTA, TP expects that irresponsible driving will mainly be dealt with by these two new offences.

 

[3] Grievous Hurt refers to injuries that have a potentially long-lasting impact on the victim (e.g. permanent blindness and physical disability), while Hurt refers to injuries of a more transient nature (e.g. cuts and bruises).

 

[4] An individual will be considered a repeat offender for a Dangerous or Careless Driving offence, if he/she had a prior conviction for (i) Dangerous or Careless Driving under the Road Traffic Act; or (ii) Rash or Negligent Act with a vehicle under

the Penal Code. An individual will be considered a repeat offender for Driving Under the Influence of Drink or Drugs offence, if he/she had a prior conviction for the same offence.

 

[5] However, in the case of Driving under DQ for second time or more, the Courts shall not make an order for forfeiture if the offender is not the vehicle owner and had used the vehicle without the owner’s consent. This too will apply for the new offences for which forfeiture can be used.  


Annexes
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