In the Know: Singapore’s Limits on Speeding

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The topic of going too fast on the roads and illegal vehicle modifications has come into focus of late, following a number of high-profile accidents and incidents in recent months. According to the Traffic Police (TP), speeding is the number one traffic offence among drivers in Singapore, and accidents arising from this account for a significant number of fatalities on the roads here.

Indeed, the TP revealed that some 6,500 motorists were caught for flouting speed limits in Sengkang alone over an 18-month period. Meanwhile, a car that was speeding along a narrow street resulted in a fatal accident earlier this year.
In Singapore, the maximum speed limit on the expressways is 90km/h. But on smaller arterial roads, it can vary from 40km/h to 70km/h, depending on the area and location.

Speed limits are calibrated to take into account the nature of the road, as well as its surroundings. In built-up areas, such as in the Central Business District (CBD) or within housing estates, limits are lower as there is a greater number of pedestrians and cyclists sharing the roads. As such, motorists have to exercise greater caution when driving in such places.

It is vital to adhere to speed limits, as a car that is going faster needs a greater distance to come to a stop when braking. For example, a car travelling at 50km/h would need around 35 metres to do so. However, at 90km/h over twice that distance is required — that’s around 80 metres or so. Additionally, braking too aggressively at high speed might also cause the car to lose control. And if an evasive manoeuvre is needed, like swerving to avoid an obstacle, the chances of a car losing control in that situation is much higher, and this may result in a nasty accident.
The safest place to go fast is always in a controlled environment on a race track. While Singapore does not have a circuit for cars, there are a handful of tracks in Malaysia which you may want to consider visiting once the borders reopen.

Track days are useful sessions where you can explore the limits of your car and your driving ability. Traction Circle Club ( is a group that organises track day outings for its members, usually to the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur. Before COVID-19, they made such trips up North on a regular basis with their members. The group prides itself on its safety-mindedness and an inclusive culture.

You may also like to participate in some advanced driving courses in order to learn how to better handle your car at high speeds. Some of these courses are organised for owners of high-end cars, like Porsche and BMW, by the local dealership. But there are also similar courses organised by the Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS), for instance, that are open to most drivers.

If you have the sudden urge to go fast, there are some places in Singapore where you can do it safely and legally, but with no less satisfaction. Get your kicks through go-karting. One such track is the KF1 Karting Circuit ( in Kranji, which is Singapore’s biggest karting track. There’s also The Karting Arena ( at Turf City in Bukit Timah, which offers electric-powered go-karts.
To use local lingo, some drivers here are known to zeng (modify) their cars illegally, under the pretext of improving their performance. According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), “modifying your car” simply means changing any system or part of your vehicle that is different from the manufacturer’s original specifications.
There are three categories of modification as defined by the LTA:
No approval required
Such modifications generally involve exterior cosmetic parts, or interior components such as seats or audio systems. They also include parts that are regularly changed due to regular usage and wear and tear, such as tyres or spark plugs. These tend not to affect the vehicle’s performance too significantly.
Approval required
Modifications that require LTA’s go-ahead include more major components, such as the engine, exhaust system or transmission. Owners will need to follow LTA’s very stringent criteria if they want to make modifications to these parts, such as ensuring that the replacement component meets the required standards, and have the relevant certification and documentation from the manufacturer and supplier.
Simply not allowed (that is, illegal modifications)
Illegal vehicle modifications pertain to items that compromise the safety of the car’s occupants or other road users, or create a public nuisance. These may include significantly altering the car’s performance, such as installing a larger engine or a nitrous injection device that feeds nitrogen oxide gas into the engine and exhaust system. Other illegal modifications include installing non-approved aftermarket lights, or making changes to the car’s chassis.
It is not just private cars that are subject to LTA’s modifications laws. Commercial and goods vehicles, as well as motorcycles, have to follow LTA’s guidelines for such enhancements as well. For instance, goods vehicles are not allowed to install aftermarket sports rims, while the automatic ‘headlamp on’ function on motorcycles may not be tampered with.

Owners or workshops who are found to have illegally modified their vehicles are deemed to have committed an offence, and will be liable to a fine of up to S$5,000, or a jail term of up to three months, or both. A car that is illegally modified will also not be able to pass LTA’s vehicle inspection checks, and thus declared unroadworthy and disallowed from being driven on the roads here.

Other implications of driving illegally-modified cars may include having your insurance coverage voided if you are involved in a traffic accident, and having subsequent claims being rejected. But perhaps more crucially, such a car might compromise on the safety of yourself and your occupants, and put you in greater danger of getting into a serious accident.

If you’re unsure if a modification is legal or illegal, the LTA maintains a comprehensive checklist on its website, And if you’re buying a used car, you can send it to an LTA Authorised Inspection Centre to help you check if it has undergone any illegal modifications.

Regardless, it is always important to follow the rules and guidelines when it comes to speeding and illegal vehicle modifications, as this will go a long way towards preventing accidents and keeping the roads safer for all.
Make saving a habit
After every purchase, save the transaction receipt and any communication you may have had with the seller, in case of disputes. Screenshot text messages as evidence, since they can be deleted if a seller disappears from the platform.

Count the cost
If you’re on a shopping spree or buying big-ticket items, know that you have to pay Goods and Service Tax (GST) on goods valued over S$400 (this includes shipping). Courier or postal services will usually request GST payment — sometimes with a processing fee attached — before releasing the parcel to you. It might be prudent to include these costs when budgeting how much you’re willing to pay for your item before you purchase it.

Inform your household
When waiting for an order to arrive, let your family members know that you’re expecting a parcel, and if cash-on-delivery is required. If you did select that option, make sure that the parcel bears the same transaction number as the one in your receipt before you hand over the money to the courier. Cash-on-delivery scams have been reported in Singapore causing online shoppers to pay for items that weren’t what they ordered.

Check your statements
Finally, check your bank and credit card statements regularly to catch fraudulent or recurring transactions that you didn’t sign up for. In 2019, an online retailer was issued a court order in Singapore to stop it from engaging in a ‘subscription trap’ — where customers who made purchases were enrolled without their knowledge in a so-called VIP programme that involved a monthly recurring fee charged to their cards.
Track your package
When purchasing from individual sellers on social media or platforms like Carousell, ask for items to be sent by registered mail, which allows you to track the progress of your parcel.

Check for the SAFETY Mark
Safety standards for electrical goods differ from country to country, and the item’s provided plug may not fit the outlets we have here. Check the item’s photos for the SAFETY Mark, which confirms that the item can be sold in Singapore.

Hang on to payment
Some platforms or payment services like PayPal offer a feature where funds are held back from the seller until the buyer confirms that they’ve received the item. This can reduce the risk factor of making a big purchase.

E-commerce scams are on the rise, with over 2,000 victims in Singapore losing a total of S$5.4m during the first half of 2020.

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