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01 Sep 2007 | Text by Amery Reuben, Edited by Nicholas Low | Category: Car Ownership Advice

Everyone knows that using your handphone without a hands-free set and driving at the same time can be fatal. What else is there to know about this then?


Since 1997, there has been widespread usage of mobile phones among Singaporeans. Unfortunately, this also meant that drivers began using mobile phones (without hands-free set) while driving on the road. This is an inconsiderate act as the driver becomes a road hazard to other road users.

By using the phone or any type of mobile devices while at the wheel, the driver's attention on the road is diverted. Hence, he will be relatively slower to react to road situations, thereby sharply increasing the probability of an accident. 

The amended Road Traffic Act states that besides making phone calls, drivers caught holding on or using mobile devices (such as texting) when the vehicle is moving can be found guilty of an offence

While a law was passed in 1999 to prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving, it couldn't keep up with technologies, which have been advancing at an accelerated pace.

As such, changes to the Road Traffic Act were passed into law on 8th September 2014 to further enhance regulations in this area, specifically to incorporate a wider range of mobile devices into the Act.

The amended Road Traffic Act will take effect from 1st February 2015. Here are important points to note about the new Act:

Road Traffic Act

Drivers caught using or holding a mobile device when driving (i.e. when the vehicle is moving) can be found guilty of committing an offence.

This means besides talking or texting on the phone, actions such as surfing the web, visiting social media platforms and downloading materials will also get the driver into trouble.

While it is not an offence to use the mobile device when the car is stationary, drivers are strongly advised against it.
What is a 'Mobile Device'?

Mobile devices are any type of hand held equipment, which are designed or capable of being used for telecommunication - including smartphones and tablets.

Exemptions


The amended law only applies to drivers holding a device. It is not an offence to use the mobile device if it is mounted on a holder. 

Wearable technology such as the Google Glass and smart watches are not covered in the amended law. But the use of such devices could be classified as inconsiderate driving, an offence which carries up to a $1,000 fine and a six-month jail term.

While the new regulations do not cover wearable technology such as the Google Glass, use of such devices can still be classified as inconsiderate driving

Penalties

First time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 and/or jailed for up to six months. Repeat offenders face up to $2,000 in fines and/or up to 12 months in jail.

Ways to prevent yourself from flouting the new law

1) Always use hands-free kit to answer all calls while driving (without the need to hold on to the handphone or hands-free kit)

2) Do not read or respond to SMS/Whatsapp when driving

3) Ask your passenger to help receive or make the phone call

4) If you are driving alone, drive to a car park or a safe spot away from traffic before making a call or sending a text message
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