People on motorbikes without helmets in Hanoi on February 1 / PHOTO: VNA
Regardless of the government’s determination and plans to limit traffic accidents, 182 mishaps across Vietnam left 80 dead and 214 others injured in just the first three days (January 30 to February 1) of Tet (Vietnam’s Lunar New Year) festival.
These are terrible figures.
Vietnam’s death toll from traffic accidents in three days was much higher than the annual figures of many countries in the world.
It is even more heart-rending that these deaths happened at a time of joyous reunion of families.
Why did this happen?
Nguyen Hoang Hiep, deputy chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee, said most of the accidents were head-on collisions between motorbikes with riders who were drunk and did not wear helmets.
Tet is a customary occasion for Vietnamese people to gather with their friends and relatives. During the gatherings, they often indulge in excessive eating and, of course, drinking.
It is not surprising that figures compiled by the Vietnam Beer-Alcohol-Beverage Association show that Vietnamese people consumed nearly three billion liters of beer last year.
According to Eurowatch, a market research organization, Vietnam’s beer consumption was also around three billion liters in 2012, topping the Southeast Asian region and ranking third in Asia after China and Japan.
The figures would climb higher if we include the amount of rice wine, popular among many Vietnamese, that is consumed every year.
Everyone knows about the bad effects of alcohol, in particular that one of them is an increase in traffic accidents, but not many seem to know how to control their drinking.
It is apparent that road accidents that happened during Tet were mainly the fault of riders.
It is impossible to blame the Minister of Transport or any other official when people get on their vehicles after getting drunk and drive in suicidal ways.
In his report on Tet road traffic, Hiep also said that many of the head-on collisions took place on roads in the countryside.
This is in line with many other reports that have pointed out the large number of fights, sometimes fatal, among drunken people in the countryside.
As Vietnam carries out its national program of building infrastructure in the countryside, authorities need to bear in mind that what they need to build is not only roads, bridges, and traffic lights but also the public discipline and greater awareness of laws, including traffic rules.
Vietnam’s high number of traffic accidents, which has been called a national tragedy, cannot be dealt with without each person respecting the law, respecting others’ right to live and doing what is needed to protect their own lives. This includes developing the habit of responsible drinking.
* Editor’s note:
According to the latest official figures, during the eight days of the country’s biggest holiday, from January 28 to February 4, 522 road accidents killed 246 people and injured 562 others. The number of accidents was an increase of 44.6 percent from the same period last year, while the death toll was down 29.5 percent.
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