SINGAPORE - Stricter penalties as well as regular enforcement and inspections have brought the number of illegal vehicle modification offences down over the past five years, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor.
In the past two years, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) issued an average of 610 notices of offences per month to owners of illegally modified vehicles. These modifications include non-compliant exhaust and lighting systems as well as tinted windows.
The number of such offences fell from an average of 1,800 per month in 2015 to 550 per month last year, Dr Khor told Parliament on Monday (March 1).
But taking workshops that perform these illegal modifications to task remains a challenge, she noted, even after the Road Traffic Act was updated in 2017 to give enforcement efforts against these workshops more teeth.
"It remains challenging to establish culpability against the workshop," she said in response to Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who asked whether the authorities would step up enforcement and impose higher penalties against workshops that are complicit.
"We need the vehicle owners to identify the workshops and then for them to agree to be prosecution witnesses. So far, the vehicle owners we have interviewed have not been cooperative," Dr Khor said, adding that the LTA is looking at other ways to gather evidence.
She highlighted the importance of stemming the demand for illegal modifications, and said penalties against vehicle owners have been stiffened to do so.
The maximum fine and jail term for first-time offenders was increased in 2017 to $5,000 and three months respectively, and the maximum penalty is doubled for repeat offenders.
Repeat offenders are also subject to mandatory vehicle inspections every three to six months, instead of every one to two years for regular vehicle owners.
Vehicles found to have tampered engines are deregistered and the vehicle owners may not get rebates on the residual certificate of entitlement, if any.
Mr Lim said he had received complaints from residents about noisy cars and motorcycles speeding along the East Coast Parkway and Mountbatten Road. He also brought up the fatal car crash in Tanjong Pagar on Feb 13 that killed five men, and allegations that the car involved was modified.
Dr Khor said it was premature to comment on the case, as police are still investigating.
Separately, Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) asked what the authorities were doing in response to complaints from residents about speeding in the Tanjong Pagar area.
In response, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said while the Traffic Police has received feedback about speeding in the wake of the Feb 13 crash, the number of complaints was not high.
He added that Tanjong Pagar Road is not known to be a speeding-prone area, but the Traffic Police conduct frequent patrols and roadblocks there to deter and detect drink driving and speeding.