Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced 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 and thereby avoid the appeal from 1 December 2017.
Currently, the law does not expressly provide for ambulances to run red lights, in an emergency. However, SCDF drivers are given the discretion to do so when responding to life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest and stroke, where every second counts. Similar discretion is given for the drivers to make U-turns at places where such is not authorised by traffic rules. However, even with the exemption, SCDF ambulance drivers must continue to comply with SCDF’s operating procedures to ensure safety.
Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin responded to questions filed by MP for Nee Soon GRC Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang who asked ask the MHA whether ambulances are allowed to run red traffic lights when attending to emergencies, if not, whether there are plans to allow this, and what are the steps that the Ministry is taking to encourage motorists to give way to ambulances.
According to SCDF, there are safeguards in place to ensure the safety of other road users, ambulance crew and patients. For example, 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. 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.
It then added that should an SCDF driver be issued a ‘Notice of Traffic Offence’ for running a red light or making an unauthorised U-turn, an appeal will be lodged and Traffic Police will evaluate the case. Traffic Police will waive the offence if the driver was responding to a life-threatening emergency.
SCDF reminded other road users to play their part by exercising civic responsibility and give way to SCDF ambulances, which can make a real difference in saving lives.
COL (Dr) Yih Yng Ng, Chief Medical Officer of SCDF said, "In a life-threatening medical emergency, this will help us get to the patient and to the hospital sooner, thereby increasing the patient’s chances of survival."
Assoc Prof Marcus Ong, Medical Director, Unit for Pre-Hospital Emergency Care, Ministry of Health, said, "In a medical emergency, every minute saved has the potential to improve the overall patient survival outcome. The ability for the SCDF ambulance crew to make certain time-saving judgement calls on the road will greatly benefit the patient."
What motorists and cyclists should do upon hearing the siren and/or seeing the flashing blinker lights of an approaching SCDF emergency ambulance:
- Stay calm and check the direction of the oncoming ambulance.
- Give way to the ambulance by signaling early and filter towards the left if it is safe to do so. Do not wait until the last minute to do so.
- If unable to filter to the left, let the ambulance overtake you from the left. Do not speed up to block an overtaking ambulance.
- Do not try to outrun or tailgate the ambulance as this can endanger yourself and other road users.
- At traffic light junctions/intersections, slow down and give way to an ambulance even when the lights are in your favour.
- Do not drive through a red traffic light in order to give way to an ambulance.