The stiffer penalties for personal mobility device (PMD) users caught riding on roads is a timely move, observers said yesterday, amid a rise in the number of such offences.
But at the same time, Singapore needs to step up public education and tighten regulations on the type of PMDs permitted for use, they added.
From Jan 15, the current $100 fine for using a PMD on roads will go up, with the addition of a tiered penalty system based on the type of roads that users are caught on, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced yesterday.
First-time offenders who ride them on a local road will be fined $300, and on major roads, $500. Those caught on expressways will be charged in court.
Nanyang Technological University senior transport research consultant Gopinath Menon believes the tougher penalties will be a deterrent and give enforcement efforts more teeth in taking users off the roads. But ultimately, "it is crucial to also educate PMD users that it is in their own interest not to go on the road".
Mr Bernard Tay, chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council, said the impending penalties are timely as more PMD users are defying the rules on riding on the roads.
To educate users, he said PMD sellers could be asked to give brochures listing the dos and don'ts to buyers.
The LTA said last month that it has been promoting safe riding habits through walkway banners, table-top stickers at food centres, print advertisements, posters and brochures.
MP Ang Hin Kee, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said that as PMDs become more popular with the elderly, they need to be educated via platforms that appeal to them, like getai shows.
Meanwhile, Mr Tay suggested additional regulations on the type of PMDs allowed in Singapore, in addition to what is set out in the Active Mobility Act, which will take effect soon. "The authorities can introduce a type approval, issuing a mark or seal to PMDs that can be sold here," he said.
Experts agree that getting PMD users off the road is an uphill task. "It is like pedestrians who jaywalk - they know it is wrong, but they still do it. For many PMD users, they want to be on the road because there is no obstruction," said Mr Menon, adding that pedestrians on pavements force them to slow down.