The number of personal mobility device (PMD)-related fires is on the rise.
In 2018, there were 52 PMD-related fires. In the first half of 2019, there were 49.
Deadline for UL-2272 certification brought forward
Aside from PMD fires, there were 228 reported accidents involving PMDs on public paths in 2017 and 2018.
These statistics were revealed by Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min in a ministerial statement delivered in Parliament on August 5.
He added that all PMD-related fires thus far have involved non UL2272-certified PMDs. UL2272 certified PMDs have a reduced risk of fire, according to Lam:
"I wish to remind PMD users that UL2272-certified PMDs come with electrical system safety features to reduce the risk of fires. UL2272 automatically cuts off battery charging once the battery is fully charged, thus avoiding overcharging which is a cause of fire."
Because of the recent spate of PMD fires, the deadline for all PMDs to be UL2272-certified has been brought forward by six months from January 1, 2021 to July 1, 2020.
Lam added that the Ministry of Transport (MOT) is "deeply concerned" about the risks posed by motorised PMDs.
Aside from the new deadline, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be introducing a mandatory inspection regime for all e-scooters from April 1, 2020.
From that date, all e-scooters which have been registered with LTA will be served with an inspection notice.
From July 2020, all e-scooters will have to pass inspections for UL2272 certification, width, weight, and device speed before they can be registered.
Lam added that LTA is studying ways to incentivise Singaporeans to dispose of their non-UL2272 devices early.
Using certified PMDs is not the only way to prevent PMD fires. Lam added that users should adopt safe charging practices, including:
- Avoid charging already-full batteries
- Regularly check batteries for damage or deformity
- Use original power adaptors, which should be affixed with Enterprise Singapore’s Safety Mark
- Never leave devices unattended when charging
- Do not charge devices overnight
LTA spending S$50 million on active mobility infrastructure
LTA will also be investing S$50 million into improving active mobility infrastructure over the next few years.
These improvements include widening footpaths, and installing warning signs and speed regulating strips.
Town councils are also getting into the action.
Lam said that 15 out of 16 town councils have decided to ban the usage of PMDs in void decks and common corridors. Mothership understands that only the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council has not yet indicated their decision on banning PMDs.
LTA is also targeting densely populated town and neighbourhood centres as these areas have high accident risk. Lam revealed that the Authority will be trialling "pedestrian only zones" in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Batok and Khatib, and a Tampines neighbourhood centre.
Riders will have will to dismount and push their devices at these "pedestrian-only zones". The trial will run for three months. If it proves successful, it will be rolled out in other towns islandwide.
Lastly, LTA is beefing up its active mobility enforcement team from 100 to 200 in order to catch errant PMD riders and retailers. No changes were announced to the current Active Mobility penalties.
Lam ended his speech by assuring Singaporeans that PMDs are here to stay but asked for PMD riders to behave in a responsible manner for everyone's safety:
"As our population ages, it is important to promote active ageing. Regular exercise is an important part of active ageing. That is why we promote Walk, Cycle, Ride as a preferred mode of transport for short distances within our residential estates. For some Singaporeans, motorised PMDs offer an added option. We hope Singaporeans will be able to accept their usage on our footpaths; but this requires PMD users to behave themselves. It is for their own safety as well as the safety of others."
Top image by Joshua Lee.