From next month, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) ambulances will be allowed to run red lights 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 yesterday by Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin.
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 so, the SCDF said in a statement.
Exemptions for ambulances exist in foreign jurisdictions such as Britain and the state of 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 red lights 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 ambulance drivers to sound their sirens and activate blinker lights to alert other road users that they intend to run a red light or make an unauthorised U-turn.
Demerit points, plus a fine, for motorists who refuse to give way to emergency vehicles
When approaching a traffic junction, the driver must slow down, come to a complete stop and assess the traffic conditions before proceeding, he added.
Even with the new exemption, its ambulance drivers must comply with these procedures for safety reasons, the 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 roads, Mr Amrin said.
Those who refuse to give way will be fined and given four demerit points.