SINGAPORE: From January to September last year, there were a total of 30 accidents involving personal mobility devices (PMDs) and pedestrians on public paths, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament on Monday (Jan 8).
In total, there were about 110 accidents involving PMDs such as e-scooters in the same period last year, he added.
"These accidents occurred on public paths, or at road junctions when PMD riders were crossing the road, or on roads when PMD riders were riding parallel to vehicle traffic illegally," Mr Khaw wrote in a separate reply.
And over the same period, he said, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Traffic Police issued warnings or summonses to about 330 riders for the offence of riding PMDs on roads.
In light of this, Mr Khaw said there could be a case for the registration of e-scooters. Compulsory registration of power-assisted bicycles (PABs) began in August last year, with more than 12,600 PABs registered as of December.
“I don’t think we should be registering all scooters or all bicycles, but I think those which are power-assisted, and therefore potentially can incur greater harm, there may be a case for some sort of registration,” Mr Khaw said.
In addition, PMD users caught riding recklessly will have to attend a new programme that raises awareness of active mobility rules and penalties.
The Safe Riding Programme, to be launched “soon”, will take place in schools, foreign worker dormitories and community centres.
Mr Khaw was responding to a question by Member of Parliament (MP) for Jurong GRC Tan Wu Meng on the number of e-scooter accidents and near-misses on walkways last year.
While Mr Khaw said the ministry does not keep track of near-misses, LTA will "step up efforts to prevent accidents through enforcement and education", he said.
To that end, he highlighted that LTA has issued more than 1,700 advisories for unsafe riding behaviours last year and installed more than 500 signs at hotspots to warn PMD riders to stay off the roads.
Offenders will also face stiffer penalties once the Active Mobility Act kicks in next week, Mr Khaw noted, pointing to how LTA is working with 800 Active Mobility Patrol volunteers to conduct regular patrols in their communities and share safe riding practices.
“In the event of an accident, the victim should file a police report, and the Police will investigate,” he said.
“If the offender is convicted in court for committing an offence, the court will consider if compensation to the victim should be paid. The victim can also seek compensation through civil lawsuits, mediation or private settlement.”
In addition, motorists and the public can report errant PAB riders to the Traffic Police or LTA, Mr Khaw stated. "Details such as the date, time, location, PAB registration number, description of the rider, and video or photo evidence of the offence will aid the investigation," he said.
IS COMPULSORY INSURANCE NEEDED?
Dr Tan asked if compulsory insurance should be introduced for power-assisted devices, given that they have the potential to cause more harm. He suggested that this would prevent a “double financial tragedy” involving a rider who is unable to provide compensation because of financial constraints.
In response, Mr Khaw said he has asked the Active Mobility Advisory Panel to review the code of conduct and practices governing PMDs, including compulsory insurance and the wearing of helmets.
“We have a year of experience, and I think in light of that experience, we should see what other rules should introduced, tweaked or toughened,” he added. “Some of these suggestions, I’m sure the panel will take that into account as well.”
In his written reply, Mr Khaw also explained that riders are not required to wear helmets as they have to abide by speed limits of 15kmh on footpaths and 25 kmh on shared and cycling paths.
"However, we encourage PMD riders to take personal responsibility and use the necessary protective gear while riding," he said.