When you get behind the wheel, put that mobile phone down. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has seen you playing Candy Crush and checking your Facebook feed, and is working to bring you down.
In proposed changes to the Road Traffic Act tabled on Monday, the MHA is proposing to extend the penalty of using communication devices while driving, including tablet computers, to cover all possible functions of those devices. Currently, the rule only covers communication functions, such as texting or making a phone call. If this amendment is accepted, you won’t be allowed to even flip through emails or update your Twitter account as long as you’re behind the wheel.
This doesn’t seem to be solely a Singaporean concern. Last year, the Telegraph reported a 50% increase in youths checking Facebook behind the wheel. In Phuket, a police superintendent reportedly (by The Phuket News) gave his men permission this past Tuesday to arrest anyone using a mobile phone while driving.
However, there is a loophole. This law only applies if you are holding the mobile device in at least one hand while driving. So if you’re desperate to use your phone while driving, find a way to mount your phone or activate voice commands.
Traffic Police figures showed that the number of summonses issued to motorists using their mobile phones while driving has increased from 2,817 in 2011, to 2,938 in 2012, and 3,572 last year. That’s a 27% increase in just two years! No wonder the MHA is cracking down on mobile phone using drivers.
Other measures proposed include ensuring drivers who damage other parked vehicles or structures leave their particulars, and implementing a new safe driving course which, upon passing, will remove three demerit points off the driver’s records. The latter will be a big relief for new drivers, especially those in their first year on the road. Only time will tell if these changes become a permanent fixture.