Ambulances to be allowed to run a red light and make unauthorised U-turns

Ambulance drivers will no longer have to undergo an appeal and waiver process if they are slapped with a traffic offence, said SCDF.
Ambulance drivers will no longer have to undergo an appeal and waiver process if they are slapped with a traffic offence, said SCDF.PHOTO: SCDF

SINGAPORE - From December, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulances can run a red light and make unauthorised U-turns when responding to life-threatening emergencies.

Their exemption from part of the Road Traffic Act is in the works. Police vehicles and fire engines could be exempted as well.

The prospective changes were announced in Parliament by the Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Amrin Amin, on Tuesday (Nov 7).

Currently, drivers of SCDF ambulances are liable for traffic offences when they run a red light or make an unauthorised U-turn, although they can file an appeal and get a waiver.

With the change, they no longer have to do it, SCDF said in a statement on Tuesday.

Exemptions for ambulances exist in foreign jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and California in the United States, Mr Amrin said in his reply to Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC), who had asked if ambulances could run a red light when attending to emergencies.

Currently, ambulance drivers may exercise discretion in cases such as cardiac arrest and stroke, when every second counts, said Mr Amrin.

SCDF procedures require drivers to sound their siren and activate blinker lights to alert other road users they intend to run a red light or make an unauthorised turn.

When approaching a traffic junction, the ambulance driver must slow down, come to a complete halt and assess traffic conditions before proceeding, he added.

Even with the new exemption, its ambulance drivers must comply with these procedures for safety reasons, SCDF said in its statement.

The Home Affairs Ministry is also updating the highway code to include pointers on how motorists should respond when they encounter emergency vehicles on the road, Mr Amrin said.

Those who refuse to give way will be fined and get four demerit points.