Ambulance Chasers

Singapore July 7th, 2007

Moby Sky wrote about Singaporean drivers refusing to give way to emergency vehicles in a jam – a long mentioned problem with Singapore drivers. In fact, the problem was so bad that it was reported in the national papers, and obviously the problem is bad enough to be tomorrow’ed.

I was just talking to one of my lecturers the other day during lunch with my other senior who is going to the UK for further work or studies. He mentioned that in London, watching an emergency vehicle moving through the jams is like witnessing the parting of the Red Sea. Vehicles along the way would literally move up the curbs to allow enough space for the emergency vehicles to pass through.

In Singapore, this almost never seem to happen, especially if the emergency vehicle is headed for a red-light camera secured T- or X-junction. Most Singaporean drivers are probably too afraid of getting a ticket from the traffic police to risk crossing the sensors when the traffic light is red. Personally, I have witnessed vehicles inching shy of the censors on the road when an ambulance was trying to move forward. Like what Moby said, what if the person in the ambulance is a close family member of those drivers?

However, there is something unique in Singapore (ok, and probably elsewhere that I do not know of) afterall. We have ambulance chasers. These are the drivers that follow an ambulance closely on the road; because in the rare times that the ambulance does get a cleared lane in a jam, ambulance chasers would be able to beat the jam. In fact, there are so many vehicles following the ambulance at top speed that you would think the patient in the ambulance was either an important person or someone who came from an affluent family.

Sometimes, I am quite ashamed to admit that I am a Singaporean. I dread the day that someone would go… “oh, you are from Singapore! Yes, I heard about horrid drivers and ambulance chasers“. I hope the earth would just open up and swallow me in.

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