An accident in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. Some 7,000 people were killed in road accidents across the country by September this year. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Last Wednesday morning, two motorbike-truck collisions killed six and left two injured in the southern province of Dong Nai and the central province of Binh Dinh.
Of all the victims, five were children between two and three years old.
Worse still, the three who died in Binh Dinh were a man, his pregnant wife (eight months), and their daughter.
"Why do traffic accidents happen? How to stop them?"
These questions must have occurred to people while reading news reports about road accidents.
Readers of such stories probably reminded themselves and their families to drive more carefully the next time they go out.
However, we are still unable to avoid a massive amount of accidents. According to the latest statistics from the National Committee of Traffic Safety, road accidents killed some 7,000 people across the country between January and September this year.
The figure was lower than the same period last year when nearly 8,500 deaths were recorded, but it is still an unacceptable number.
According to officials and experts who have compiled statistics and conducted studies on traffic, most road accidents in Vietnam happen because people either don't understand or don't observe traffic laws, or both.
But that's not the only problem. The fact is our roads are poorly designed and in very bad condition. They are extremely dangerous. No amount of awareness can change the infrastructure problem.
A woman who lost a son, daughter, son-in-law and a grandchild to an accident said: "If only they had not used National Highway 1A that day."
But they had to use it, even though it is known as the country's biggest death trap.
And her other children and grandchildren are still using it to go to work and to school. Every day. In fear.
National Highway 1A hosts passenger buses, cars and trucks with tons of goods. People commute to work and the market on the road, and students use it to go to school alongside farming vehicles driving to the fields.
The road passes industrial zones, residential areas, schools, hospitals, churches, pagodas and markets.
In other words, the road is bustling with all kinds of vehicles and activities. Accidents happen easily and quickly.
If only a real north-south highway were in place. Then trucks which have higher probability of causing accidents because drivers get tired after long distances could be quarantined there. Road collisions would lessen.
But this is just a dream. A new highway, which is designed specifically for cars and trucks, is still under construction. Therefore, National Highway 1A now is being upgraded mainly widened to host more traffic. In the end, traffic on the thoroughfare is still a mess with all kinds of vehicles sharing the same road.
Vietnamese people's awareness and observance of traffic safety rules will have to be improved, sooner or later, because after all, no one wants to cause accidents or become a victim.
The efforts of the government and international organizations will be needed to help provide people with the awareness they need.
But people also need support, if not protection, from the government in the form of logical and effective policies and infrastructure development plans.