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Using a handphone inside your car. What you need to know

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Confused about the rules and Singapore law regarding the use of mobile devices whilst in your car? You’re not alone.

Misleading WhatsApp messages and misinformed social media reports led to some confusion about what you can and can’t do when it comes to using your handphone or tablet whilst driving or whilst your car is stationary.

This article will guide you through the rules of using your mobile device while driving. Still, it should be noted that common sense must prevail above all, especially since mobile devices are a distraction. The leading cause of road traffic accidents in Singapore is distracted driving.

Here’s a simple guide to help you navigate your way through the confusion and clear up any misunderstandings motorists may have.

Using your device whilst driving

Singapore has strict rules when it comes to using your mobile device while driving.

Using your handphone or any other tech device such a tablet becomes an offence when a driver is carrying out all three of the following at the same time:

1. Your vehicle is in motion AND;
2. The driver is holding on to any mobile device with one hand AND;
3. The driver is using any function of the mobile device including
a. making calls
b. sending or receiving any messages including photos/videos or documents
c. pressing the keypad
d. accessing the internet

If you are just holding onto your phone and it is switched off then that is not considered an offence.

But if your phone is switched on and you’re holding it and someone sends you a message then that could be considered an offence even though you haven’t sent the message, merely received it.


If caught doing the above, you’ll be given a penalty. These are as follows:

  • A motorist convicted for the first time for using a mobile device while driving can be liable to a fine of up to $1,000 and or a jail term of up to 6 months. The offender can also be disqualified from driving.
  • A driver convicted for a second or subsequent time can be liable to a maximum fine of $2,000, and or a jail term up to 12 months.

Using your device sitting at a red traffic light

It isn’t an offence to use your phone at a red light or when your car is stationary. But you are strongly advised not to use any device when you are at a red light. Even though this isn’t an offence, doing so still lowers your concentration levels and hinders your perception of your surroundings.

A spokesperson for Budget Direct Insurance, said: “It may not be an offence to use your phone whilst your car is stationary at traffic lights but we urge motorists not to do so. You are still distracted and you’re still in charge of a vehicle. Put temptation out of arms way. It could still pose a risk to yourself and other road users.”

If breaking the law isn’t enough to deter some drivers then consider this. Motorists who are multi-tasking while driving are said to be four times more likely to be involved in an accident. Using your mobile device involves activity in multiple areas of the brain, which then significantly reduces your reaction time.

What’s the solution?

Use a hands-free set to access calls while driving. Using a hands-free kit allows you full control of the steering wheel. This lets you drive safely as well as answer and make calls. We also advise drivers to mount their device on a holder or dashboard where it is not creating any obstruction to your view.

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