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Definition of “animals” in Road Traffic Act to be reviewed: MHA

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) intends to review the definition of what is considered an “animal” under the Road Traffic Act in a move that aims to make it clearer for motorists in the event that an animal is hit while driving.

The Road Traffic Act was enacted in 1963. Currently, it defines “animal” as “any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog”.

If a motorist were to hit any of these animals listed, it is mandatory for him or her to stop and exit the vehicle to help the animal. If the motorist does not stop it is an offence that is punishable with a S$3,000 fine or a jail term of up to a year.

However, the Act is silent on other animals such as other animals such as cats, monkeys, birds and boars.

In response to a query from Member of Parliament of Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said in Parliament on 9 May that the Government would be reviewing the Act.

Mr Ng pointed out the definition of an “animal” in the Road Traffic Act differed from that in the Animals and Birds Act. A review of the definition would ensure the alignment of legislation.

Mr Lee stated that the definition of “animals” in the Road Traffic Act was in consideration of the safety of road users such as motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and that the definitions in the two acts are hence scoped differently.

“The specific provision in the Road Traffic Act relating to animals has been confined to farm animals of commercial value. The original intent of the legislation was to ensure restitution to their owners should an accident occur,” he said.

Under the Animals and Birds Act, the definition of “animals” was laid out in consideration of the spreading of diseases through animals, the movement of animals and the safeguarding of the general welfare of animals in Singapore.

Nevertheless, Mr Lee stated that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) intended to review the Road Traffic Act “in the context of road safety”, and that full details would be announced after the revision was complete.

“The question is whether we should now make it mandatory all motorists to stop should they hit an animal. The primary requirement must be safety,” concluded Mr Lee.

“They should stop if it is safe to do so. If the motorist requires assistance in relation to attending to the animal, he can contact the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore, or AVA, or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or SPCA.”