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Changes To The Highway Code

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What do they mean for drivers and pedestrians?

The issue of road-related accidents is a constant problem that local authorities have to grapple with, and they are constantly reviewing and updating the traffic rules and regulations to further prevent traffic accidents. In case you weren’t aware, the Singapore Police Force continually updates the Highway Code for all road users; the last revision took effect in December 2019, with new provisions introduced to the code for greater clarity. This set of changes and updates helps to ensure continued road safety for all road users.

One of the amendments concerns emergency vehicles. The code now provides clearer guidelines for motorists on what to do if they happen to encounter emergency vehicles on the roads. This will help clueless drivers on what they should do if they hear the emergency sirens blaring.

Upon hearing the emergency siren of vehicles used for medical, fire rescue, military, police or customs purposes, motorists are advised to exercise their civic responsibility to give way to them. The most important thing is to stay calm and check on the direction of the sound of the siren to know where the oncoming emergency vehicle is. At this point, check to see if it is safe for you to filter to the left to give way to the emergency vehicle. Make sure to signal early your intention to filter; do not abruptly change lanes. You may mean well to give way to an emergency vehicle, but remember that road laws still apply, so don’t break the law, such as driving through a red light to let an emergency vehicle through!

If circumstances are such that it is not safe for you to filter to give way to the emergency vehicle, slow your car down to give the emergency vehicle a chance to overtake your car. Motorists should never treat the situation as a race against the emergency vehicle; neither should they speed up to block an overtaking emergency vehicle, especially if lives are at stake and every second counts. If the emergency vehicle is ahead of you,don’t attempt to overtake it. Some drivers may be tempted to tailgate an emergency vehicle, thinking that it’s their ticket to a clearer path, but that is simply dangerous.

Another amendment to the Highway Code emphasises that personal mobility devices (PMDs) such as e-scooters and personal mobility aids (PMAs) such as motorised wheelchairs are not allowed on the roads. This addition follows the ban on e-scooters from footpaths on 5 November 2019 due to an increase in the number of accidents involving the devices.

Unlike bicycles, PMDs and PMAs in general ride lower to the ground and are seldom visible to other road users, especially cars and other commercial vehicles. This presents a real danger not only to the PMD and PMA user, but also to other motorists. While accidents reported could have been the result of a few errant riders, these devices are not built for the roads; they have smaller wheels and lack the necessary safety features, such as safety belts and impact cushions, to provide proper rider protection.

One of the updates to the guidelines is directed at pedestrians rather than motorists, as it highlights the need to avoid using mobile communication devices when crossing the roads. As motorists, we should also keep an eye out for such distracted pedestrians to ensure the safety of all road users. Ultimately, the new directives and guidelines are there for the sake of creating a safer environment for all road users, so we all have a part to play.

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