SINGAPORE: The deadline for personal mobility devices (PMD) to comply with the UL2272 safety certification has been brought forward by six months to July 2020, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced in Parliament on Monday (Aug 5).
This comes after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced last month that it was reviewing the end-2020 deadline, following a recent spate of PMD-related fires.
A total of 49 PMD-related fires were reported in the first half of this year compared to 52 for the whole of last year.
All PMD-related fire incidents so far involved non-UL2272 certified devices, said Dr Lam.
Retailers have been banned from selling non-certified PMDs since July, but users who had just bought such devices were given a grace period.
“The UL2272 standard improves safety against fire and electrical hazards significantly, by requiring the devices to pass a stringent set of tests conducted by accredited testing centres under extreme physical conditions,” Dr Lam said.
“UL2272 automatically cuts off battery charging once the battery is fully charged, thus avoiding overcharging which is a cause of fire.”
MANDATORY INSPECTION OF E-SCOOTERS
Dr Lam also announced that from April next year, all e-scooters - both new and currently registered - will have to go through a mandatory inspection.
The inspections will check for UL2272 certification, width, weight and device speed limits. For new e-scooters, inspections will have to be carried out before they can be registered.
In clarifications to Members of Parliament following his ministerial statement, Dr Lam said authorities are "discussing internally" if the inspections will be one-off or done on a periodic basis.
"If you understand the life span of a PMD, it’s probably going to just last about two to three years," he said.
"And if we do have a regular inspection regime, (we have to consider) whether that’s going to be first of all, necessary and secondly, cost-effective. If necessary, we may put in the necessary requirements.
"With regards to the cost of the inspection as well as the subsequent fee for registration when owners replace their PMDs, LTA is working out their details; we’ll make that announcement soon."
There are currently 90,000 registered e-scooters, of which only 10 per cent are believed to be UL2272-certified, said Dr Lam.
He added that authorities are studying ways to encourage users to come forward and dispose of their non-UL2272 certified PMDs early. More details will be announced later.
“LTA is also working with the National Environment Agency to ensure safe and convenient disposal of non-UL2272 certified devices,” he said.
READ: PMDs to be banned in most void decks and common corridors, pedestrian-only zones to be trialled in some towns
Addressing the earlier deadline for UL2272 compliance, Dr Lam said “we think this is the earliest reasonable deadline” as many Singaporeans rely on PMDs for their livelihoods and commuting needs.
“This will also give retailers time to bring in sufficient stock of UL2272-certified devices,” he added.
READ: Toa Payoh man taken to hospital after battery pack in personal mobility device catches fire
Nevertheless, Dr Lam acknowledged that some users are concerned about the costs of switching out their non-UL2272 certified PMDs.
Some of the more popular UL2272 certified PMDs can cost between S$600 and S$1,000.
“Users were unhappy about having to give up devices that were still usable and having to pay significantly more for a UL2272-certified PMD,” he said.
Food delivery companies, on their part, have tied up with PMD operators to offer rentals to food delivery riders, said Dr Lam. They have announced their commitment to help riders convert to, or rent, UL2272 certified PMDs.
“LTA will work with food delivery companies to offer more attractive rates for PMD rentals,” he added. “From LTA’s engagement with retailers, we are also aware that they will bring in more UL2272-certified PMDs with higher capacity and longer range soon.”
On the early disposal of non-UL2272 certified PMDs, Dr Lam urged users to switch these devices out “as soon as possible”. “They can be a fire risk if you still keep and charge them at home,” he said.
Dr Lam said users should not try to modify devices which are already UL2272 certified as this could affect the circuitry and device safety. Device owners should instead approach their retailer or an authorised agent who is familiar with the approved battery models.
“We will also crack down on illegal modifications of PMDs,” he stated. “Individuals caught doing so will be liable for a fine and/or jail term.”
On the issue of enforcement, Dr Lam said LTA will continue to ramp up enforcement and increase its enforcement team to about 200 by the end of this year. The current team is 100-strong.
"This will be supplemented by crowdsourced feedback through LTA's recently launched 'Report PMD/PAB Incident' function in the MyTransport.SG app," he added, noting that LTA is also trialling the use of cameras to detect offences like speeding.
Since May 2018, LTA's officers have detected more than 4,900 active mobility offences and impounded more than 2,100 non-compliant devices.
"We take a tough stance against retailers who display or sell non-compliant devices, as well as those who provide illegal device modification services," Dr Lam said, stating that LTA has taken action against 12 PMD retailers.
In addition, Dr Lam said MOT is "closely monitoring" whether current penalties are effective in deterring errant riding behaviour.
In February, a PMD rider was sentenced to seven weeks' jail for knocking down a pedestrian and causing grievous hurt.
"This will serve as a precedent for future cases," Dr Lam said. "We will enhance penalties if necessary."
Editor's note: This story has been edited following clarifications from the Land Transport Authority.