On 11th May 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) uploaded a video onto their official Facebook page featuring the Commander of Traffic Police, SAC Gerald Lim. Spanning 4 minutes, the video takes on the latest amendments to the Road Traffic Act and other traffic-related matters.
Key amendments to the Road Traffic Act
1. Illegal speed trials
An illegal speed trial is defined by a trial where two or more vehicles compete at high speeds through a stretch of road. As noted in the video, vehicles that are involved in illegal speed trials may also be illegally modified to go faster, which is an offence on its own.
For first-time offenders, individuals will face a fine of up to $5,000, up to 12 months of imprisonment or both. Repeat offenders will face a jail sentence of up to 24 months, a fine of $10,000 or both.
Additionally, MHA announces that the vehicle forfeiture routine for illegal speed trials will be amended to make it non-mandatory. This means that if an offender is not the owner of the vehicle involved in an illegal speed trial, and if an offender had used the vehicle without the owner’s consent, there will be no forfeiture of the vehicle to the state. This will ensure that the forfeiture regime is consistent with other offences.
2. Pretending to be the offending driver
Under the new amendments, it is now an offence to defeat the course of justice by asking someone else to pretend to be the offending driver for various situations. This involves not just the individual who is facing the penalties on behalf of someone else, but also the individual who is asking someone else to face the penalties on their behalf.
The penalty for this offence includes facing imprisonment for up to 12 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Offenders will also be disqualified from driving.
3. Road rage
While road rage has been steadily declining in recent years, this uncouth behaviour still exists among local drivers. As such, MHA is introducing new laws to make it easier for motorists who commit this offence to be completely disqualified from driving.
According to a CNA article, this new amendment includes license disqualification for all offences under any written law committed in the context of road rage. These offences include voluntarily causing hurt, causing death by negligent act and wrongful restraint.
For motorists who find themselves a victim of a road-rage offence, SAC Gerald advises drivers to:
1. Remain calm
2. Avoid an exchange of words
3. Apologise to diffuse the situation
4. Call the authorities if the offender continues to be hostile
MHA has also introduced minor amendments with regards to road safety.
1. Driving license suspensions
Under the new amendment, there is no need for secondary legislation to prescribe the circumstances and suspension lengths for future suspensions of driving licenses. This is to provide more operational flexibility.
2. Enhanced criminal penalties
Enhanced criminal penalties for serious traffic offences and repeat offenders will only apply to individuals who have been convicted on at least 2 previous instances.
This would mean that drivers who have been charged and convicted of the same offence before will face the enhanced penalties, even if the maximum penalty for the offence is lower.
3. Taking compounded offences into account for court sentencing
With the new amendment, the court will be able to take into account any traffic offence compounded after 2019 as aggravating factors during sentencing.
What are your thoughts on the new amendments? Should there be more done to ensure greater traffic safety on our roads?
For further clarification on the new amendments, you can read the full article on Channel News Asia.