Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Some vehicle enthusiasts confused by rules on road gatherings, following recent police crackdown on convoys

SINGAPORE — When the founder of automotive lifestyle brand Basement 1, Mr Mohammad Izzraimy Mohammad Isham, put up an open invite online for a meet-up session with friends in the car enthusiast fraternity, he did not expect 300 cars to turn up for it.

Police said on May 2 that they were looking into several incidents of individuals and groups organising gatherings, with plans for vehicles to travel in convoys.

Police said on May 2 that they were looking into several incidents of individuals and groups organising gatherings, with plans for vehicles to travel in convoys.

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.
  • The police recently issued a warning reminding the public that it is illegal to organise events on the road without a permit
  • Some vehicle group enthusiasts that TODAY spoke to seem confused over the exact parameters of the rule
  • They point out that informal group drives are commonly organised here

SINGAPORE — When the founder of automotive lifestyle brand Basement 1, Mr Mohammad Izzraimy Mohammad Isham, put up an open invite online for a meet-up session with friends in the car enthusiast fraternity, he did not expect 300 cars to turn up for it.

“There's no pop-up, like food trucks and all that kind of stuff. It's just literally a park-and-chill kind of session for enthusiasts,” he said, explaining his vision for the meet.

Neither did he expect the meet-up he organised to be among the gatherings involving vehicles highlighted by the Traffic Police in a warning issued last weekend.

A few individuals have been identified as organisers of the convoy events, and were under investigation for “conducting an event on the road or part thereof without a permit”, the police had said.

Following the event, a few motor vehicle enthusiasts whom TODAY spoke to said they were either unaware or had no clear understanding of such regulations.

And while a legal expert points out the seemingly broad gamut of the said rule, things were less straightforward on the road where group meet-ups and drive-together are fairly frequently organised.

NO CONVOYS ALLOWED AT ALL: ONE BIKER’S IMPRESSION

For two years before Covid-19 restrictions kicked in, Mr Muhammad Ilhami Kalil organised Majulah Vespura — a carnival that gathered about 500 Vespa enthusiasts each year from around the region.

He said that he had initially wanted to take his friends from the region for a scenic ride around Singapore. But when he approached auxiliary security companies here to provide outrider escort, he was declined.

“Unless it’s something exceptional like a funeral, or national event like Chingay, as far as I know no convoys are allowed in Singapore,” said Mr Ilhami.

In the end, he decided for the event to take the format of a mini carnival held on top of a privately owned building, circumventing the need for any road traffic permit.

INFORMAL GROUP DRIVING EVENTS A NORM

On the other hand, car club group members said that it was common to organise meet-ups and drive together from point to point, all without running afoul of the law.

Though notably, they eschew using the word “convoy” to describe these drives.

For example, Mr Anton Lim, founder of media company and car interest community Horizon Drivers Club, said that members would typically meet up on some Sunday mornings, take a scenic drive together in small groups via an agreed-upon route before meeting at another place for breakfast.

“But since the news came out, we decided not to organise any drive-together anymore for now,” said Mr Lim, saying that he was initially not aware of such rules governing convoys and road events here.

Mr Clarence Tan, a committee member of a few classic car interest groups, said: “Most car clubs that are registered with ROS (Registry of Societies) would have driving events listed as their activities.”

But he added that as far as he understands it, an event permit is not required unless the number of participants exceed 50.

Mr David Thomson, president of the Malaysia Singapore Vintage Car Register, said that while their meet-ups do entail small groups of cars driving together to a specific destination along a given route, it was “very rare” for them to “go for proper permits and convoy arrangements”.

He acknowledged that the distinction between a proper convoy and a group of vehicles driving together may be confusing and might require “the police to define it” to avoid further confusion. 

However, as a road user, he opined that it all boils down to the drivers’ behaviour and whether they each “behave as an individual” and respect other road users, or act like “a single organism” and cause disruption.

The disruption, he says, arises when groups of drivers try to stick together “at all costs” by running the red light or not allowing other vehicles to filter through.

RULE ‘DRAFTED WIDELY’, COVERS ANY ACTIVITY ON THE ROAD

Legal counsel Lim Tianjun pointed out that Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act, which touches on events held on the road, is “drafted widely and appears to include all types of gathering or activity on the road, even if no motor vehicles are involved”.

“Nothing is said also about how many persons, or vehicles, it would take before it is considered a ‘gathering’ or an event within Section 143,” said the lawyer from That Legal LLC.

“There appears to be no reported cases specifically on this section that might shed some guidance.

“That said, the primary objective appears to be in ensuring the safe and smooth flow of traffic, and persons should consider applying for a permit if their event or gathering has any potential to run contrary to that objective."

MORE CLARITY TO AVOID FUTURE TROUBLES, PLEASE

As for Mr Izzraimy of Basement 1, he said that the Traffic Police had called him on the day of the gathering to ask for his event’s itinerary, but gave him the verbal go-ahead as long as the programme did not involve groups driving out together.

He added that as far as he was aware, the police had stepped in towards the end of the event only to ensure safe dispersal of the crowd, mainly as it was late at night and some individuals were starting to get noisy. But he was still uncertain of any specific action taken as the authorities have yet to contact him about any follow-up.

The police said in their statement last week that "conducting an event on any road or part thereof without a police permit is illegal in Singapore and we will not hesitate to take firm action against those who choose to flout our laws”.

Under the Road Traffic Act, any person convicted of conducting any event on any road could be fined S$1,000 or jailed up to three months, or both. Repeat offenders are liable for double the punishment — a S$2,000 fine or up to six months’ jail, or both.

While maintaining smooth and safe roads is an objective that all motorists can get behind, Mr Lim and Mr Izzraimy felt that greater clarification on what a convoy or “event on any road or part thereof” entails would go a long way in ensuring road users do not inadvertently flout the regulations.

“It cannot be like a group of 10 friends, if we want to hang out and just drive for breakfast or dinner, we need to keep applying for permits every single weekend,” said Mr Izzraimy.

Related topics

police Traffic Police LTA social gathering

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.