Nguyen Trong Thai, vice office chief of the National Committee for Traffic Safety, spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about traffic safety and the threat of increasing numbers of road deaths.
What are the major reasons for traffic accidents, which kill more than 31 people a day on average, a situation that has remained static for the last two years?
Relevant agencies believe that low awareness in following road traffic regulations is the main reason for such a high casualty rate. Motorbike drivers bear the brunt of most accidents as they are the most regular offenders, jumping traffic light and changing lanes, travelling while overloaded, speeding or driving while drunk. This is the case in many countries, where motorbikes are considered unsafe forms of transport, a problem not helped here where the numbers of motorbikes have increased by about three million a year on average.
Poor traffic infrastructure can also be blamed for the increasing number of accidents. Low-quality roads can be upgraded, but encroaching housing creates greater risks for both road users and household alike. The Government has attempted to deal with this problem, with a focus on clearing rail crossings or reinforcing railway safety corridors, but many localities haven't done a sufficiently good job so far in carrying out this policy.
I think dissemination on the serious consequences of traffic accidents, such as talking with victims and witnessing their losses can work. A recent film festival on traffic safety featured a good film on the dangers of drink driving in the southern province of Dong Nai. We have copied the film and sent it to localities.
Many countries spend a day to commemorate victims of the traffic accidents and organise talks between victims and road traffic violators. This will be part of the Ministry of Transport's road traffic safety strategy in the coming period.
Reasonable fines and regular inspections will work, but stiff fees sometimes cause problems. Several provinces are asking to reduce the fines. For example, the regulation stipulating to fine vendors at banned streets VND10 million (US$450) is rather unfeasible. This may cause pressure on traffic police in cases where violators don't have the money to pay the fines.
This issue will be focused on the Ministry of Transport's strategy on road traffic safety. The ministry plans to invest more in vehicles, equipment and human resources to help people access health services as soon as possible.
The ministry has completed the strategy and has canvassed opinions from relevant agencies. The strategy will focus on promoting the traffic law, developing traffic facilities and completing the traffic safety law. State agencies will be charged with implementing registration procedures, vehicle management and driving training. It will also pay attention to vulnerable people such as motorbike drivers and pedestrians.
Only comprehensive measures can reduce the number of accidents, and relevant agencies are trying their best to find the most appropriate solutions. — VNS