Mandatory speed limiters, rain covers on lorries for workers but rear seatbelts 'not feasible': MOT
SINGAPORE: Speed limiters and rain covers will be made mandatory for lorries ferrying workers in a bid to improve their safety, Minister of State Amy Khor said on Wednesday (Mar 9).
"To protect lives and livelihoods, we need to take a balanced approach and make changes that are sustainable," said Dr Khor during the Transport Ministry's Committee of Supply debate.
"Many small and medium enterprises, especially in the specialist trade, shared with us the constraints they face – they may need to transport a small crew with bulky equipment to several different locations in a single day.
"It will be operationally challenging and inefficient for them to use buses for workers, and separately transport their equipment in lorries," she said.
Private bus operators have told authorities that there are "simply insufficient private buses and drivers" to transport the large number of workers in the manufacturing and construction, marine and process sectors, especially when other activities like tourism resume post-COVID, added Dr Khor.
Taking into consideration the challenges and concerns, the Traffic Police (TP), Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will roll out several measures to improve the safety of worker transportation.
These improvements come after an inter-agency review involving industry groups, safety experts, transport operators, private companies, non-governmental organisations and academic institutions, the agencies said in a joint release.
SPEED LIMITS ON LORRIES
All lorries with a maximum laden weight (MLW) exceeding 3,500kg will have to be equipped with speed limiters.
Speed limiters are already mandated for all goods vehicles with a maximum laden weight exceeding 12,000kg, while speed warning devices are required for all goods vehicles with a maximum laden weight of up to 3,500k.
Under the new regulations, all lorries will be required to be equipped with speed management devices.
Employers will also have to ensure that lorry drivers, in particular those with dual roles of ferrying workers and working onsite, have "sufficient rest" before driving, the agencies said.
This will be in addition to existing regulations on the number of working hours.
"MOM will also mandate that every lorry-ferrying worker has a designated vehicle person-in-charge who will sit next to the driver. This person-in-charge will be empowered to stop the driver from driving if he deems the driver to be unfit for driving," added Dr Khor.
More details on the measures will be released at a later date.
REAR SEATBELTS "NOT FEASIBLE"
All lorries used to ferry workers will have to be fitted with rain covers to shield workers from the elements.
Currently, such lorries must be fitted with canopies to provide shelter. The rain covers, which are typically waterproof canvas tarps installed on the sides of the lorry rear deck, will complement the canopies, the agencies said.
LTA consulted motor vehicle dealers and workshops on the feasibility of the suggestion to install seatbelts in the rear decks of lorries. However, their feedback remains that "retrofitting seatbelts would not be feasible and could in fact pose safety risks", said Dr Khor.
"Commercial lorries today are not designed for seatbelts to be installed in the rear deck, as the floorboards in the rear deck might not be sufficiently strong to keep the seatbelts anchored in the event of an accident," she said.
There are also "liability issues" for such modifications without the support of the lorry manufacturers, added Dr Khor.
"Without the industry being able to bring in lorries with seatbelts and vouch for their safety, it is not prudent to mandate this."