Published: 07 November 2017
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether ambulances are allowed to run red traffic lights when attending to emergencies; (b) if not, whether there are plans to allow this; and (c) what are the steps that the Ministry is taking to encourage motorists to give way to ambulances.
1. Today, the law does not expressly provide for ambulances to run red lights, in an emergency.
2. 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.
3. To reduce the likelihood of an accident, SCDF has in place operating procedures. 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.
4. 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. They will waive the offence if the driver was responding to a life-threatening emergency.
5. This appeal and waiver process can be avoided by providing legislative clarity that SCDF's ambulance drivers are allowed to run red lights and make unauthorised U-turns where necessary.
6. To this end, MHA is working towards exempting SCDF's ambulances from the legislative provision that prohibits red-light running and unauthorised U-turns. Such exemptions already exist in foreign jurisdictions such as California and the United Kingdom.
7. Other road users must play their part. They should exercise civic responsibility and give way to SCDF's emergency vehicles, as this can make a real difference in saving lives. MHA is updating the Highway Code to include pointers on how motorists should respond when they encounter emergency vehicles. We will also continue to raise public awareness. For instance, SCDF has worked with LTA to display "Give way to emergency vehicles" messages on electronic signboards located along expressways.
8. 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.