The parliamentary discussion on personal mobility devices (PMDs) this week had two aspects: pedestrians' safety and safety from fires. The latter threat is being addressed by bringing forward the deadline, requiring PMDs to be certified safe, by six months to July 1 next year. Although this is a welcome step, the destination is still almost a year away. Meanwhile, Singaporeans are worried that there were 49 PMD-related fires in the first half of this year, compared with 52 for the whole of last year. Clearly, the devices could be a potential fire hazard with severe consequences for a densely populated and high-rise urban environment.
In that context, it is reassuring that safety inspections conducted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for all PMDs will be mandatory from next April. Regulatory oversight will impress on users that their PMDs are not only a personal possession but also a social responsibility. It is disconcerting that 90 per cent of the 90,000 e-scooters registered with the LTA do not comply with the UL2272 standard of safety requirements. The sooner users come on board, the better it would be for themselves. After all, their own homes could be ruined in a fire if the devices malfunction during charging. The case of a PMD left to charge in a flat last month is instructive. It exploded, causing a fire that destroyed the flat and damaged two neighbouring units. It is unacceptable for homes to be put in this kind of danger.