We came across this message being forwarded on WhatsApp:
If you can get past the questionable English and longwinded phrasing, the message can be summarised into two main claims:
- A “new legislation” was passed in Parliament that whoever uses their mobile phone while driving or while the vehicle is parked with the engine running will “lose their driver’s license on the spot for 3 months”
- From “this month”, those using their mobile phones while crossing or even standing near roads would be fined $150
Claim #1: Illegal to use mobile phone while driving or when parked with the engine running?
When we did a quick Google search of the keywords “using phone while parked new legislation singapore”, we are immediately pointed to an article on The Straits Times published in 2018.
In the article, we see that even then, the SAME message was being circulated on messaging platforms and social media:
The article then goes on to debunk the claims made in the message, and when we did a check on the Basic Theory of Driving published by the Singapore Traffic Police in March 2020, we see an entire section dedicated to the use of mobile communication devices while driving:
As a quick summary, an offence is committed only if a driver satisfies all these 3 conditions:
- At least one hand is holding a mobile communication device; and
- Driver is using any function of the mobile communication device; and
- The motor vehicle is in motion
Any driver caught committing this offence will be charged in court, and the penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months. The offender’s driving license would also likely be disqualified.
However, it has also been explicitly stated that using hands-free devices, such as wireless or wired headsets, is “acceptable unless the driver is holding on to the mobile communication device […] while the vehicle is in motion”. It was also advised that should drivers need to use the device while driving, they should go to “a safe place such as a carpark” to use their devices when the car is stationary.
There is also no mention or indication that drivers would need to turn off their engines just to use their phones.
Therefore, while it is true that it is illegal for drivers to hold and use their mobile phones while the car is in motion, it is false that it is illegal for them to use it while the vehicle is parked or stationary.
Claim #2: From “this month”, those using their mobile phones while crossing or even standing near roads would be fined $150
Another Google search of the keywords “using phone standing at road pedestrian singapore” leads us to an article on CNA published in 2019.
In the article, we read that then, a message claiming that “pedestrians who use their mobile phones while crossing the roads may be fined [up to $1,000 from 1 Dec]” was being circulated online.
This message was likely due to a misunderstanding of amendments to the Highway Code, a code of conduct for all road users, which came into effect on 1 December 2019.
One of the provisions introduced were guidelines on the use of mobile communication devices while crossing the road. It is important to note that the guidelines had merely advised pedestrians to be cautious and avoid using such devices while crossing the road.
Below is a screenshot of a video that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) produced to explain the provisions:
Regardless, the SPF still came out to debunk the viral claim, clarifying that while it is “not an offence for pedestrians to use a mobile communication device when crossing the road”, pedestrians are advised to “avoid using such devices when crossing the road, as such usage would distract them from the road conditions and the movement of vehicles around them”.
Therefore, it is false that those using their mobile phones while crossing or even standing near roads would be fined $150.