Re: It's the traffic, stupid! (May 6-12 issue No.84)
This is an interesting and burning issue in Vietnam. I moved to this country from San Jose, California. I have lived here now for two years. One thing I learned is that that traffic rules and traffic culture do not exist in Vietnam.
I noticed on several occasions that common sense is widely ignored and "the-stronger one" wins. In fact, truck and bus-drivers need a lot of training and education about safe driving, the dangers of driving a heavy vehicle and the skills needed to be a commercial driver. Trucks and buses in this country are like deadly weapons. They can kill a lot of people.
I also drive a motorcycle to get to work and sometimes I've got to go to Saigon on a xe may (motorbike). From what I've seen and continue to see on the road, it is no wonder that others are scared to death. In the US, I was an educator for Traffic Safety, worked for different school districts over 20 years. I was also a dedicated school-bus-driver trainer, the safest drivers probably not just nationwide, but world-wide. School bus drivers in the US get so much training and such sophisticated training that only the best "survive" at the end. Because of this, I know first hand how to drive safely.
Vietnam is one of those countries which have a high death-rate in traffic accidents. I've observed that this occurs mostly from speeding, reckless driving, driving, passing too close to pedestrians, cars, motorcycles, illegal turns and/or driving on the wrong side of the road. There's no respect from truck- and bus-drivers for pedestrians, motorcycles or bicycles. There's no traffic rule that turning or merging vehicles MUST yield to on-coming traffic. Motorcycles tend to "explode" on to the roadways from alleys, driveways and streets, forcing vehicles traveling at a constant speed to swerve into the same traffic or oncoming traffic. Drivers entering the road give NO yield to anyone. In fact they do not even look into the traffic BEFORE they enter the road. I wonder how people in this country can afford so much disrespect for their own lives? For their own family members. For others who want to get home in time to their families too...
If I would be asked to rebuild Vietnam's traffic structure, I would accept the job, but this wouldn't happen without re-educating, re-testing and re-licensing almost ALL truck- and bus-drivers on the roadways of Vietnam. This would reduce the average 13,000 deaths per month that take place here. Enforcing the existing laws and rules of the road and the pedestrian crossings (where people can cross safely the road), and hefty fines for notorious traffic violators will make the picture a bit better. However, I think new laws and stronger traffic police involvement are necessary stop the road carnage in Vietnam.
Vinh Long Province