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Not all road and traffic rules are so cut and dry, some are pretty confusing. Here are six car acts you probably didn't know you could get into trouble for.

11 Apr 2018 | Category: Miscellaneous Advice


Beating a red light, speeding and drink driving are, without a doubt, illegal. However, did you know that there are some pretty peculiar acts that could also land you on the wrong side of the law?

Here are six illegal in-car acts you could get into trouble for without you even realising.

1. Leaving your engine to idle while your vehicle is stationary

A simple but effective way to beat the mid-day sun would be to crank up the air-conditioning in your car, right? It would be, if not for the fact that a National Environment Agency (NEA) officer could slap you with a fine of up to $2,000.

Don't worry, you won't get a fine for engine idling if you're stuck in traffic

That's right, it's an offence to leave your engine running while your vehicle is stationary. It's a maximum fine of $5,000 if you get caught more than once.

Why the hefty fine? According to the NEA website, "The rationale is to minimise pollution to the environment and safeguard public health."

And, on top of that, as long as your vehicle remains stationary, you are also not allowed to leave your head lights on. In case you're wondering, this regulation doesn't apply to vehicles stuck in traffic.

2. Smoking in your vehicle is allowed, but there's a catch

It's common knowledge that smoking is prohibited in vehicles such as taxis, buses and, more recently, private-hire vehicles, which include carpooling services such as GrabShare and the soon-to-be-extinct Uber Commute.

Trishaw passengers are prohibited from smoking, even though they are open-air vehicles

What about lighting one up in your own vehicle? Technically you can, but there's a catch. The NEA says you are allowed to smoke in your own vehicle only if no second-hand smoke is expelled, which means you'll have to wind up all your windows fully. Doesn't sound particularly tempting now, does it?

On a side note, did you know that you're also not allowed to smoke on trishaws and in multi-storey carparks?

3. You cannot make a U-turn if there's no U-turn sign

Most of us have long forgotten many rules in the Highway Code, which is understandable. But there's one in particular that you should probably keep in mind the next time you're on the road.

If you don't see a U-turn sign at a junction, don't take the risk

The rule is this - it is illegal for a driver to perform a U-turn at any traffic junction, intersection or opening in a road divider that doesn't have a U-turn sign.

Why? Put simply, not all junctions were made equal. Some are just not wide enough to accommodate U-turning vehicles while others may have too much traffic that if a vehicle were to make a U-turn, it would probably cause a jam or an accident.

Whatever the case may be, as long as you don't see the sign, it's not worth the risk.
4. Parallel parking in the opposite direction

If you think parallel parking is too easy and are looking for a challenge, don't park in the opposite direction. It not only gets on the nerves of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, but also poses a danger to oncoming traffic once you try to pull out of the lot.

Parallel parking in the correct direction is much safer and won't get you into trouble with the law

According to the HDB website, "No person shall park any vehicle in a parallel parking lot on any road except in the same direction as the traffic moves lawfully." This traffic offence will set you back by $50.

5. Breaking down in a tunnel due to an empty fuel tank

Running out of fuel on most roads is perfectly fine, all you'll need to do is figure how to get your ride some sustenance and you'll be good to go.

However, the same can't be said for tunnels as it is an offence to break down in the middle of one due to an insufficient amount of fuel left in your tank.

Running low on fuel? Best avoid that expressway tunnel

According to the Road Traffic (Expressway Traffic) Rules, a vehicle not carrying sufficient fuel to enable it to be driven through a tunnel is not allowed to pass through it. On top of that, neglecting to fill up your tank will damage your fuel pump and endanger the safety of other road users passing through the tunnel.

6. Excessive and unnecessary reversing

Yes, you can be charged for excessive reversing. The exact distance, though, varies depending on the situation. The Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Construction and Use) Rules state that your vehicle is not allowed to travel backwards for longer than what is necessary.

Also, if you happen to take a wrong turn and wind up on a side road you do not wish to enter, you will be in violation of the Highway Code if you decide to reverse out and merge back onto the main road.

If you've made a wrong turn, look for an alternate route instead of reversing out onto the main road

So what's the deal with using your mobile phone while driving?

The confusion surrounding the entire 'mobile phone while driving' issue was cleared up by the Traffic Police in this video, where Superintendent Louis Loke, Head (Operations & Training), said that three criteria must be met in order for the driver to be in violation of the rule:
  1. The vehicle must be in motion
  2. The driver has to be holding the device
  3. The driver must be using a function on it
As long as one of these three requirements are not met, it will not be counted as an offence.

However, even if all three aforementioned criteria aren't met, it is still extremely dangerous to use your mobile phone in your vehicle as it takes your attention away from the road. So try to refrain from doing so. That Instagram story can wait.
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