Wednesday, 24 December 2014

LTA raises fines for illegal parking from 1 January 2015

Stiffer fines for repeat parking offenders
Tiered penalty system, cameras at 40 more locations from next year
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 23 Dec 2014

UNDER a new tiered system, motorists who are caught for illegal parking more than once within a year will face fines up to 60 per cent heavier than the current rates.

The tougher penalties - to be introduced on Jan 1 next year - will target repeat offenders, who have been responsible for about half of all parking offences committed between 2011 and 2014.

Along with a stiffer penalty system, enforcement will also be stepped up, as closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to catch illegal parking will be installed at 40 more locations, up from the current 30.

They will be operational from the first quarter of next year.

Under the new rules, for example, a motorist caught parking along unbroken double yellow lines will be fined $110, instead of $70, if it is his second offence in 12 months.

The number of demerit points, which are handed out for more serious violations, will remain unchanged.

Announcing the changes, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said parking offences committed before the start of the new rules will not be taken into account.

The LTA said the tougher penalties will "reduce the number of repeat offenders" and also the overall number of parking offences.

Between January and September this year, 340,300 summonses were issued for parking offences. For the whole of last year, there were 357,600 and, in 2012, a whopping 427,200.

While most motorists said the new rules will make them think twice about parking illegally, some questioned if they are fair.

Mr Gavin Ng, 36, a logistics manager, believes that a heavier fine for a second-time offence may be too harsh. "The circumstances for parking illegally vary each time. Say it is an emergency, such as parking on double yellow lines to run to the toilet," he said.

Mr Y.T. Tan, 30, a communications manager, asked: "What if the driver of the same vehicle is a different person the second time round?"

MP Lim Biow Chuan, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Transport, said there should be more public education on the issue.

"Many motorists don't realise that illegal parking can cause danger to other road users. For example, pedestrians crossing the road may not be able to see oncoming cars if their view is blocked by illegally parked cars," he said.

Transport GPC deputy chairman Seng Han Thong said: "Some motorists also don't understand that no parking also means no waiting."

More CCTV cameras to deter illegal parking
LTA to install devices at 40 new locations in first quarter of next year
By Olivia Ho And Lester Hio, The Straits Times, 23 Dec 2014

PEAK hour in Grange Road is a nightmare for drivers using it to access Orchard Road malls.

Administrative executive Karen Bek, 47, said it takes her 15 to 20 minutes to pass the 700m stretch from Grange Road to Ngee Ann City, via Orchard Turn.

Another motorist, Mr Richie Lee, 41, who is unemployed, said the jams in Grange Road can sometimes be exacerbated by vehicles stopping illegally for passengers along the double yellow zig-zag lines between Mandarin Gallery and Cathay Cineleisure.

He said that once drivers get past the stretch of road where the taxis stop, "there is not much congestion".

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is stepping up measures to improve traffic conditions by reducing illegal parking or stopping islandwide.

Grange Road is one of 40 roads where closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be installed in the first quarter of next year. Drivers who are caught on camera parking or stopping illegally will be fined.

The new cameras will be set up in illegal parking hot spots such as Joo Chiat Road fronting 112 Katong mall and Tampines Avenue 4 where Tampines Mall is.

Another frequently congested road is the access road to OUE Bayfront in Collyer Quay. Security officers working at OUE Bayfront say the area gets congested with delivery vehicles or couriers who have only the one narrow road that leads to a wider unloading bay to deliver supplies to at least three different buildings.

Delivery driver Prakash Stantiramorthan, 33, said: "When the unloading bay is closed after hours, we have no choice but to park here to deliver supplies."

But lines should first be drawn along the side of the road to signal a clear no-waiting zone before cameras are installed, said 33-year-old accounts executive Angus Ang, who was waiting in a car to pick his wife up.

"Since there are no lines, it is okay to wait here now," he said.

Taxi driver Thomas Lau, 45, said the presence of CCTV cameras has been very effective in deterring cabbies like himself from stopping illegally for passengers, but he wished the LTA could be more flexible.

"Wherever customers want to wait, we have to stop for them," he said in Mandarin.

"They are not going to walk to where there is no CCTV. We have to make a living too."

Number of road rage cases on the decline
53 reports made in first nine months of this year, down from 71 last year
By Joyce Lim, The Straits Times, 22 Dec 2014

INCIDENTS of road rage are on the decline in Singapore, according to the latest police statistics obtained by The Straits Times.

The number of reported road rage cases in the first nine months of this year fell to 53, from 71 over the same period last year.

Such cases, which are classified as "voluntarily causing hurt", totalled 90 for the whole of last year, compared with 97 in 2012 and 84 in 2011.

Criminal lawyer Rajan Supramaniam believed the dip in cases was a result of stiff sentences passed and the growing number of in-car cameras, which have served as an effective deterrent.

"With advanced technology and more witnesses stepping forward, offenders can't go scot-free," he said.

Lawyers whom The Straits Times spoke to said they are handling more road rage cases involving foreigners, though the police do not have a breakdown of cases involving foreigners.

Earlier this month, three foreigners went to court after they were accused of physically abusing cabbies here.

"Road bullying" cases involving foreigners have also drawn attention in the media, especially on social media.

Road bullying can take many forms, from verbal exchanges between drivers to cases where one driver assaults another over a traffic dispute, said the police.

In one case involving a foreigner, a Caucasian man drew flak from netizens after he was caught on camera pointing the middle finger at a motorist earlier this year.

"That is also a form of road rage," criminal lawyer Josephus Tan said of the case.

"We need to let them know that certain actions that may be acceptable, or seen as a mischievous prank in their own country, are frowned upon here."

But putting things into perspective, criminal lawyer Shashi Nathan said most road rage cases he handled still involved Singaporeans.

"Nowadays, with social media, when you get a foreigner involved in a road rage incident, people would post it online, and it would generate more publicity," he said.

Singaporean motorists behaving badly have also been shamed on social media.

Student Quek Zhen Hao, 25, made the news in February this year after videos of him swerving his car recklessly into the path of another driver without signalling went viral. He had also approached the woman driver of the other car in a threatening manner.

In May, Quek was fined $5,400 and banned from driving for two years after pleading guilty to two charges of driving rashly to endanger life and one of displaying threatening behaviour.

Mr Rajan said not all foreigners involved in road rage cases were white-collar professionals. "Some (road rage) cases I have handled involved foreigners working as drivers here. When people overtake them, they overreact," he said.

He added that stiff sentences for most road rage cases would send a strong deterrent message, noting that a foreign client was jailed for two months for attacking a cabby a few years ago.

CCTVs help enforce parking rules

THE Land Transport Authority has introduced closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at 30 locations as part of efforts to deter and reduce illegal parking ("Illegal parking: Enforcement vital" by Mr Benson Tan; Dec 24).

These cameras operate 24 hours daily and help to enforce parking rules along roads that see obstruction caused by indiscriminately parked vehicles.

Since we introduced the CCTVs at these locations last year, we have observed fewer cases of indiscriminately parked vehicles and a significant improvement in traffic conditions. We are expanding the use of CCTV cameras to 40 more locations in the first quarter of this year.

To alert motorists to the presence of enforcement cameras, CCTV monitoring zones are clearly demarcated by parking restriction lines and signs. Available lamp-posts and signposts within the zones are also painted with a vertical strip in bright orange colour.

In summary, while we work hard to deter motorists from parking illegally through education and a host of measures, eradicating illegal parking depends on motorists following the law and respecting other road users.

Helen Lim (Ms)
Director, Media Relations
Land Transport Authority
ST Forum, 10 Jan 2015

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