Whether you’re a Singaporean who is about to take a driving test, an expat living in Singapore who is considering using a car, or a visitor interested in renting a car to facilitate your sightseeing or business trips, make sure that you know all relevant laws, information, and conventions before getting behind the wheel and taking to the streets.
Age Limit and License
The lowest age that a person can qualify for a driving license in Singapore is 18.
Foreigners who drive in Singapore must have a valid license and also be at least 18 years of age.
As with many countries, a person who has a license for automatic vehicles cannot drive a vehicle with manual gear change. If you hold a manual gear change license, however, you can drive both types of vehicle.
People drive on the left-hand side of the road in Singapore. Most vehicles are right-hand drive; left-hand drive vehicles must either be towed or display a prominent sign that states they are left-hand drive.
Many road signs in Singapore are very similar to those used in the UK. This is because of British colonial rule in Singapore. Singapore’s expressways do not have numbers. Rather, expressways have names. Most signs are in English, although multilingual signs can be found in ethnic enclaves such as Little India and Chinatown.
Driving whilst drunk is a criminal offence in Singapore. Whilst the limits are 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, police can charge you with drink driving if there is the presence of any alcohol in your system, even if you are within these limits. If you are involved in an accident, injure somebody, cause damage, or break any other traffic laws, having alcohol in your system makes matters far worse. You can expect a hefty fine and up to six months in prison for a first offence. The fine and prison term increases with further offences.
Use of Mobile Devices
It is illegal for a person to be holding a mobile device whilst driving. You do not need to be actually using your device to make a call / text / browse the internet etc to fall the wrong side of the law. This contrasts with the former position, where you were only doing something wrong if you were engaged in a call or sending a text message. Mobile devices include tablets as well as phones. It is okay to use mobile devices that are in a holder or mounted to the dashboard. You cannot have hold of a mobile device at all whilst the vehicle is moving. If caught, you could be given a large fine and / or jail time.
The maximum speed limit for all vehicles in Singapore is 50 km/h, though there are some exceptions. The limit for cars and motorbikes on regular roads is 50 km/h. The limit rises to between 70 and 90 km/h on expressways, and is between 50 and 80 km/h in tunnels. There are separate speed limits for buses, coaches, and small commercial vehicles. It is against the law to exceed the speed limit.
Other Important Driving Considerations and Laws
All people in a vehicle must wear their seatbelts. The driver can be held responsible if a passenger fails to buckle up.
There are offences of dangerous driving and inconsiderate driving. It is illegal to engage in racing on Singapore’s roads.
In general, a red traffic light means stop; unlike some other countries, you cannot turn left on a red light. The exception is if there is a sign at the junction giving permission to do so.
To keep commuter traffic moving fairly freely, there are designated bus lanes in some parts of Singapore. These operate during certain hours. Driving in a bus lane outside of permitted time periods is illegal and can attract a fine of up to 1,000 SGD or a three-month prison term.
Be aware of where you park your vehicle, as if you are caught parking illegally alongside public roads you can be prosecuted.