Parliament: More can be done to improve PMD safety, say some MPs

LTA officers conducting an enforcement operation along Loyang Drive earlier this year. Between May 1 and Aug 15, officers recorded 1,300 offences, including reckless riding.
LTA officers conducting an enforcement operation along Loyang Drive earlier this year. Between May 1 and Aug 15, officers recorded 1,300 offences, including reckless riding. ST FILE PHOTO

The use of personal mobility devices (PMDs) will come under tighter regulations, with the passing of new laws that will expand the enforcement reach of the authorities and require e-scooters to be registered.

But more can be done to further improve safety, said MPs who spoke in the debate on the Land Transport (Enforcement Measures) Bill in Parliament yesterday.

Their suggestions included making third-party accident insurance compulsory and setting an age requirement for PMD users. Some also called for stronger enforcement efforts against reckless riders.

Replying to the 12 MPs who spoke, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is conducting a trial on the use of mobile closed-circuit televisions along public paths to identify and reduce errant behaviour.

Between May 1 and Aug 15, the LTA's enforcement officers recorded 1,300 offences, Dr Lam added. These offences included reckless riding and the use of non-compliant devices on public paths.

The Active Mobility Act, which took effect on May 1, regulates the use of bicycles, power-assisted bicycles and PMDs on footpaths, shared cycling paths and roads.

  • Transport measures

  • Some of the other highlights from the Land Transport (Enforcement Measures) Bill:

    Regulation for personal mobility aids

    •Motorised devices such as motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters are required to have a maximum speed limit of 10kmh.

    Outsourced enforcement officers

    •The Land Transport Authority can outsource the work of its enforcement officers to deal with active mobility offences.

    •Outsourced uniformed officers will be given powers, for example, to examine personal mobility devices used on public paths to ensure that they comply with the rules.

    Penalties for damage to road infrastructure

    •The maximum fine for intentionally causing significant damage to road infrastructure will be increased from the current $10,000 to $100,000.

    •This covers events such as oil spills on roads and damage to overhead road structures by vehicles over the height limit.

MPs such as Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) wanted third-party liability insurance to be made mandatory so that accident victims can seek recourse in claiming for damages from PMD riders.

Dr Lam said a panel advising the Government on active mobility laws had considered the impact of mandatory insurance on a diverse group of PMD users and decided that it was more important to prevent accidents.

He noted that victims have three avenues to seek recourse: private settlement via mediation, pursuing a civil claim and making a police report on the accident.

Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan said, however, that the right to take a case to court may just be an "academic one" as the in-juries suffered by a victim may not be very serious, and that the costs of a legal suit may not make it worthwhile for the parties.

Agreeing, Dr Lam said it is important to educate road and path users to ride responsibly and safely.

Meanwhile, those that employ large numbers of active mobility device users, like food delivery companies, will be encouraged to insure their riders, he added.

The Government will also work with the General Insurance Association and insurance companies to explore ways to make premiums more affordable and accessible for PMD users. One way could be to bundle insurance into the sale of PMDs, he said.

Dr Lam added that the suggestion of an age criteria for individuals registering their PMDs will be considered. This was proposed by Ms Lee and Nominated MP K. Thanaletchmi.

From early next year, e-scooter users will need to register their devices and give their personal particulars to the authorities to ease the tracing of individuals during investigations of an offence. They must also declare that their e-scooters comply with the weight, width and speed requirements.

Mr Tan also asked whether an individual could de-register when he sells his PMD to another person. Dr Lam said the individual should apply to the LTA to transfer the registration to the buyer.

Mr Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio GRC) suggested the LTA create a list of PMD retailers that sell devices that comply with the rules. This is an idea that the authorities will study, Dr Lam said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2018, with the headline More can be done to improve PMD safety, say some MPs. Subscribe