Before today, it was illegal for ambulances to breach traffic rules

Have you ever wondered why you can sometimes drive faster than an ambulance? Or why does an emergency vehicle, with sirens blaring and lights flashing patiently waits at the red light for the green to come on?

That’s because unlike the rest of the world, ambulances in Singapore have to abide by traffic rules too.

And we would not have known had it not been for MP for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng who raised it in Parliament today. Louis asked if ambulances are allowed to run red lights when attending to emergencies.

Parliament Secretary for Home Affairs Amron Amin provided the reply. “MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) is working towards exempting SCDF ambulances from legislative provision that prohibits red light running and unauthorised U-turns,” he said. This review will be extended to include police vehicles and fire engines.

Before the review is performed, ambulance drivers must still abide by the Road Traffic Act. That is to say, they are prohibited from running red lights, making unauthorised u-turns and speeding. However, SCDF has operating procedures that allow an officer to do so only when “responding to life-threatening emergencies, such as cardiac arrest and stroke”.

Even in the event of a life threatening emergency, a driver has further procedures to follow. They have to activate the blinker lights and sirens, slow down and come to a halt at the traffic junction and then make a situational assessment of traffic conditions before proceeding further.

They would still have considered to have breached traffic regulations, so when the summon arrives an appeal will be lodged and the Traffic Police will waive the offence. But only if the driver was responding to a life-threatening emergency.

In the meantime, please give way to emergency vehicles. Motorists who refuse to give way to emergency vehicles are liable for four demerit points and a composition fine. If there are aggravating factors, the offenders will be prosecuted in court.

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