Car drivers flip over first no-bike expressway

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Drivers on Vietnam’s new highway routinely break the speed limit of 100 kilometers per hour just for the thrill, but they can’t seem to slow down and control their vehicles at a sharp turn in Long An Province.

“I drive 100km/h and it still feels slow,” a driver on the Ho Chi Minh City â€" Trung Luong Expressway was quoted by local newswire Vietnamnet as saying Thursday.

“Other vehicles still pass me in the wink of eye and vanish. They must be driving 150km/h,” he said. The brand new road, for cars, buses and small trucks only, links the city to the Mekong Delta.

The road was open to the traffic on February 3. It is part of a north-south expressway that will run alongside the outdated National Highway 1A.

A driver identified only as T.Q.C. said he drove 100km/h during his first trip on the road between HCMC and Tien Giang Province and he felt that was slow.

Then he continued speeding up to 120 and 130km/h but both him and the passengers still felt normal.

Many drivers also admitted they didn’t follow the speed rules.

“Just imagine a traffic jam kilometers long on National Highway 1A and compare that to being left alone on the expressway that has no crossroads. I won’t hesitate to speed up,” a driver named C. told Vietnamnet as he carried passengers between HCMC and Kien Giang Province.

As of now, only four-wheeled vehicles like cars, trucks and buses are allowed to use the 40-kilometer expressway. Tractors, motorbikes or three-wheeled vehicles, multiple axel trucks, and vehicles carrying toxic and/or inflammable materials are not allowed to use it.

Vehicles on the expressway are required to maintain a distance of at least 100 meters between each other. But many cars on Wednesday followed behind one another like racecars.

Some drivers were speeding up as they were worried they might be hit by some cars from behind. “They all thrust forward like the wind,” said one driver.

Danger at the bend

But it’s not all fun and games.

Several cars have turned over and landed in rice paddy fields on the side of the road after failing to slow down at a sharp turn in Long An Province, which neighbors Ho Chi Minh City.

Doctor Nguyen Van Ton, positioned at the expressway first aid center in the province, recalled a case when a Camry “flew” into the paddy field after tumbling over a railing 1.2 meters high.

Earlier, a bus driver had a stroke and fell unconscious on the road moving towards HCMC.

Doctors said he might have had the stroke because he was driving too fast.

The entire north-south road has cost VND9.88 trillion (US$535 million) and is considered one of the country’s most modern expressways to date. It is scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2011.

Source: Thanh Nien

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