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Speed limiters, co-drivers among new measures to improve safety when transporting workers on lorries: Amy Khor

SINGAPORE — In a bid to improve the safety of transporting construction workers, the Government will require all lorries with a laden weight of more than 3,500kg to install speed limiters, and designate a "vehicle person-in-charge" to ensure that the driver remains alert, Dr Amy Khor announced on Wednesday (March 9).

The Government had been working to improve the safety of workers on lorries and had consulted with various stakeholders.
The Government had been working to improve the safety of workers on lorries and had consulted with various stakeholders.
  • Speed limiters for all lorries with a maximum laden weight above 3,500kg will soon be mandated
  • Lorries that are used to ferry workers must also be fitted with rain covers for wet weather
  • Dr Amy Khor said the Government has been working to improve the safety of workers on lorries
  • It has identified two areas — installing the necessary hardware and ensuring lorry drivers always operate safely behind the wheel

SINGAPORE — In a bid to improve the safety of transporting construction workers, the Government will require all lorries with a laden weight of more than 3,500kg to install speed limiters, and designate a "vehicle person-in-charge" to ensure that the driver remains alert, Dr Amy Khor announced on Wednesday (March 9).

The Senior Minister of State for Transport said that lorries used to ferry workers must also be fitted with rain covers for wet weather, which can be waterproof canvas tarps installed on the sides of the lorry rear deck, to complement the canopies that are currently used to provide shelter.

In a joint press statement from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Traffic Police, they said that details on the requirements for the rain covers and the vehicle person-in-charge will be announced in the second half of this year.

The move came after several calls were made by Members of Parliament, the labour movement, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to urge for more regulations, following a spate of fatal accidents involving workers transported on the back of lorries last year.

Some had called for a complete ban on lorries for worker transportation, replacing them with buses instead.

At the debate into the Ministry of Transport's spending plans, Dr Khor said that the Government had been working to improve the safety of workers on lorries and had consulted with various stakeholders.

"We understand the union’s and NGOs’ concerns, and likewise want to improve safety for workers. To protect lives and livelihoods, we need to take a balanced approach and make changes that are sustainable."

However, a ban on lorry transport is not feasible for now, she added, because it will be "operationally challenging and inefficient" for companies to use buses for workers and separately transport their equipment in lorries.

There are also not enough private buses and drivers to transport the large number of workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors, even with multiple and staggered trips.

“These challenges are not all insurmountable, but we will need time to work through them with the industry and relevant agencies,” Dr Khor said. 

In the meantime, the authorities identified two areas: Speed limiters for lorries, and ways to keep lorry drivers attentive while driving.

SPEED LIMITERS

When the new rules kick in, all lorries with a maximum laden weight — the total weight of the vehicle plus the load permissible for that vehicle — of more than 3,500kg must be equipped with speed limiters.  

Today, only goods vehicles with a maximum laden weight above 12,000kg are required to install a speed limiter. Speed warning devices are required for all goods vehicles with a maximum laden weight under 3,500kg.

"With the expanded speed limiter regime, all lorries will now be required to be equipped with speed management devices. The Traffic Police will be engaging the industry on the new requirement and more details will be released when ready," the joint statement said. 

VEHICLE PERSON-IN-CHARGE

Besides ensuring that the vehicles are equipped with the necessary hardware, it is also crucial to ensure that lorry drivers always operate safely behind the wheel, Dr Khor said.

Therefore, the agencies also unveiled new measures to ensure driver alertness and well-being. Among them is the requirement for employers to ensure that their drivers, especially those with dual roles of ferrying workers and working onsite, have enough rest before driving.

This will be on top of existing regulations on the stipulated number of working hours for workers.

MOM will also require all lorries that are ferrying workers to have a designated person as the “vehicle person-in-charge”, who will be responsible for stopping the driver from driving if he is deemed unfit to operate the vehicle.  

“MOM will be engaging the industry further on these requirements and more details will be available in the second half of this year,” the authorities said.

SEATBELTS NOT FEASIBLE

Noting suggestions of requiring lorries to be fitted with seatbelts, Dr Khor said that consultations with motor vehicle dealers and workshops found that retrofitting seatbelts would not be feasible and could pose safety risks.

“Commercial lorries today are not designed for seatbelts to be installed in the rear deck, as the floorboards in the rear deck might not be sufficiently strong to keep the seatbelts anchored in the event of an accident," she explained.

“There are also liability issues for such modifications without the support of the lorry manufacturers. Without the industry being able to bring in lorries with seatbelts and vouch for their safety, it is not prudent to mandate this.” 

Related topics

lorries speed limiters Migrant Workers road safety accident death transport MOT

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