SINGAPORE: From Dec 1, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulances will be able to legally run red lights and make unauthorised U-turns when attending to emergencies.
“This exemption provides legislative clarity that SCDF ambulance drivers are allowed to proceed past red traffic lights and make U-turns at non-designated junctions when responding to life-threatening emergencies,” SCDF said in a release on Tuesday (Nov 7).
The announcement came after a question from Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng, who had asked if ambulances are allowed to run red lights when attending to emergencies.
“MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) is working towards exempting SCDF ambulances from legislative provision that prohibits red light running and unauthorised U-turns,” Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin replied in Parliament on Tuesday.
This review will include police vehicles and fire engines, he added.
AMBULANCE DRIVERS MUST FOLLOW OPERATING PROCEDURES
While the law currently prohibits ambulances from running red lights and making unauthorised U-turns, SCDF officers can do so when "responding to life-threatening emergencies, such as cardiac arrest and stroke, when every second counts”, Mr Amrin said.
Despite that, drivers still have to follow operating procedures when doing so, he said.
“An ambulance driver who intends to run a red light or make an unauthorised U-turn is required to sound the siren and activate the blinker lights to alert other road users,” he added.
“When approaching the traffic junction, the driver must slow down and come to a complete halt so that he can make a situational assessment of the traffic conditions before proceeding further.”
In the case of a traffic summons, an appeal will be lodged and the Traffic Police will waive the offence if the ambulance driver was responding to a life-threatening emergency.
Mr Amrin acknowledged that this process can be “avoided by providing legislative clarity”, noting that such exemptions already exist in California and the United Kingdom.
Nevertheless, he urged motorists to exercise “civic responsibility” by giving way to emergency vehicles, stressing that this can make a real difference in saving lives.
He added that MHA will continue to raise public awareness on the issue, pointing to how it has worked with the Land Transport Authority to display “give way to emergency vehicles” notices on electronic signboards along expressways.
The ministry is also updating the highway code to include pointers on how motorists should respond when they encounter 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,” Mr Amrin said.