Ambulance or taxi a better option for parents facing child emergencies
Last week, Voices writer Yeo Lay Hoon recounted her experience with a Grab driver who refused to take her and her young son to hospital. Her letter drew responses from two private-hire car drivers.
Last week, Voices writer Yeo Lay Hoon recounted her experience with a Grab driver who refused to take her and her young son to hospital. Her infant had developed an allergic reaction after ingesting egg white. The driver claimed transport regulations forbade her from doing so, Ms Yeo wrote. While she acknowledged the rule requiring children below 1.35m to use child restraints in private-hire cars, the writer urged the authorities and Grab to be flexible in life-threatening emergencies.
Her letter drew responses from two private-hire car drivers who wrote in to say that parents facing such situations should use an ambulance or a taxi instead. Taxis are exempt from the child-restraint requirement.
In such instances, private-hire car drivers would not be able to decipher the severity of a child’s allergic reaction.
In an accident, the child could be flung out owing to the lack of appropriate safety equipment on board.
Drivers who accept such bookings but do not have a child restraint place an unnecessary risk on the child by flouting regulations.
Ms Yeo could have dialled 995 for an ambulance, which comes with life-saving equipment and paramedics who can handle emergencies. By comparison, GrabCar and taxi drivers are not trained.
What is more, the Traffic Police would not allow a Grab vehicle to speed because of a medical emergency. An ambulance can do that.
I do not see why the driver who rejected Ms Yeo’s booking should be cast in a bad light. Neither should the driver who accepted her subsequent booking be glorified.
Drivers who follow the rules do it for the child’s safety. By contrast, those who disregard the regulations only make parents question law-abiding drivers who reject bookings because they do not have a child restraint.
Parents are adults. They should be able to determine if their child is facing a life-threatening emergency and take the appropriate decision to call an ambulance. LEE CHONG LAM
I am a private-hire car driver whose vehicle is not equipped with a child restraint. Yet I have received bookings that involved ferrying children, all of which I rejected.
Except once — yes, I am guilty. I was trying to qualify for an incentive from a ride-hailing firm and my performance would have been affected if I rejected that ride. So I took the chance.
Private hirers caught ferrying children below 1.35m without a restraint will receive demerit points and a fine.
I have encountered passengers who take advantage of drivers, fully aware that a child restraint is needed but the driver will likely not reject a booking.
My colleagues do not reject these bookings for reasons including:
- Pursuing incentives from a ride-hailing firm.
- Passengers pretending to be confused or saying it is only a short drive to their destinations.
- At times, drivers have already travelled 5km to a pick-up point. It would be a waste of petrol to reject a booking.
Ms Yeo ends her letter by urging the Government and Grab to show flexibility in life-threatening emergencies.
She could have used one of these alternatives:
- Book a ride via GrabFamily, Grab’s child-friendly service that comes with a child restraint (though it costs an extra S$2 to S$5).
- Take a taxi.
- In life-threatening emergencies, an ambulance would be ideal.
Private hirers drive to make a living. We cannot discern the seriousness of a child’s condition. While parents may tell us it is an emergency, sometimes their child may simply have caught a cold. SANDEEP KAPOOR
These are edited excerpts of letters sent to Voices. If you have views on this issue or a news topic you care about, email your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg. Please include your full name, address and phone number.
Related topicsprivate-hire car taxi ambulance transport medical emergency Singapore laws
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