Some car enthusiasts are at a loss over the rules for on-road gatherings, in the wake of the recent police crackdown on convoys.

SINGAPORE – When the automotive lifestyle brand founder, Mr. Muhammad Azraimi Muhammad Isham, offered an online open invitation for a meet-and-greet session at the car enthusiast fraternity, he didn’t expect 300 cars to show up for it.

“There’s no pop-up, like food trucks and all that sort of thing. It’s just a fun session for the enthusiasts,” he said, explaining his vision of the encounter.

He also did not expect the meeting he organized to be among the gatherings of vehicles that the traffic police highlighted in a warning issued at the end of last week.

A few individuals were recognized as organizers of the caravan events, and they were He is under investigation for “organizing an event on the road or part of it without a permit,” police said.

After the event, a few auto enthusiasts TODAY spoke to said they were either unaware or had no clear understanding of these regulations.

And while one legal expert points to the seemingly broad scope of said rule, things have been less clear down the road as group get-togethers and driving together are organized fairly frequently.

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For two years before the Covid-19 restrictions began, Mr. Mohamed Elhami Khalil organized the Majulah Vespura – a carnival that brought together around 500 Vespa enthusiasts every year from all over the region.

He said he initially wanted to take his friends from the area on a scenic tour around Singapore. But when he approached the help security companies here to provide an outside escort, he was refused.

“Unless it is something exceptional like a funeral, or a national event like Chingay, as far as I know no caravans are allowed in Singapore,” said Elhamy.

In the end, he decided that the event would take the form of a small carnival that would take place on top of a privately owned building, bypassing the need for any road pass.

Informal collective leadership events are normal

On the other hand, members of the Automobile Club group said that it was common practice to organize get-togethers and drive together from point to point, all without breaking the law.

Although they avoid using the word “caravan” to describe these journeys.

For example, Anton Lim, founder of the media company and the Horizon community of motorists, said that members usually gather on some Sunday mornings and take a scenic ride together in small groups along an agreed-upon route before meeting elsewhere for breakfast.

“But since the news came out, we have decided not to organize any cars together for the time being,” said Mr. Lim, saying he was initially unaware of such rules governing caravans and road events here.

“Most car clubs registered with the ROS (Registry of Associations) will have driving events included in their activities,” said Clarence Tan, a committee member of a few classic car interest groups.

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

Mr David Thompson, head of the Malaysian Singapore Antique Car Registry, said that while their encounters involved small groups of cars heading together to a particular destination along a particular route, it was “very rare” for them to “go on the proper permits and caravan arrangements” .

He admitted that the distinction between a proper convoy and a group of vehicles traveling together could be confusing and might require “police identification” to avoid further confusion.

However, as a road user, he saw that it all boiled down to the drivers’ behavior and whether they each “acted as an individual” and respected other road users, or acted like “one living being” and caused disruption.

Turbulence arises, he says, when groups of drivers try to stay together “at all costs” by turning on a red light or not allowing other vehicles to pass.

The rule is “widespread” that covers any road activity

Legal Counsel Lim Tiangwun noted that Section 143 of the Road Traffic Law, which deals with events taking place on the road, “is broadly drafted and appears to include all kinds of gatherings or activities on the road, even if there are no motor vehicles”.

“Nothing is also said about the number of people or vehicles it will take before it is considered a ‘gathering’ or a Section 143 event,” said the attorney from That Legal LLC.

“It appears that there are no cases specifically reported in this section that may receive some guidance.

“However, it appears that the primary goal is to ensure the safe and smooth flow of traffic, and people should consider applying for a permit if their event or gathering could conflict with that goal.”

More clarity to avoid future problems, please

As for Mr. Azraimi from Basement 1, he said that the traffic police had called him on the day of the rally to claim a ride for his event, but had given him the oral start-up as long as the program did not include groups driving together. .

He added that to his knowledge, the police intervened towards the end of the event only to ensure the safe dispersal of the crowd, especially since it was late at night and some individuals started to get noisy. But he remains unsure whether any specific action will be taken as the authorities have not yet contacted him about any follow-up.

In its statement last week, the police said: “The conduct of an event on any road or part of it without a police permit is illegal in Singapore and we will not hesitate to crack down on those who choose to violate our laws.”

Under the Road Traffic Act, anyone found guilty of committing an event on any road can be fined S$1,000 or imprisoned for up to three months, or both. Repeat offenders are liable to double the penalty – a S$2,000 fine or up to six months’ imprisonment, or both.

While maintaining smooth and safe roads is a goal that all motorists can fall behind, Mr. Lim and Mr. Azraemi felt that more clarity on what a convoy entailed or “occurred on any road or part of it” would go a long way in ensuring Road users do this. Do not inadvertently violate regulations.

“It can’t be a group of 10 friends, if we want to hang out and drive to breakfast or dinner, we need to keep applying for permits every weekend,” Mr. Azraimi said.

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