HCMC traffic accidents, deaths on the rise after two-year break

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At least 220 people were killed in 257 traffic accidents in Ho Chi Minh City in the first quarter of this year, compared to 176 fatalities the same period last year, municipal officials said at a Thursday meeting.

Another 164 people were injured in road, waterway and railway accidents during the first three months of 2011, the officials said.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy chief of the HCMC Traffic Safety Committee, noted that the number of traffic accidents and their death toll in the city had decreased between 2008 and 2010, but now it was increasing again.

The spots most prone to accidents include National Highway 1A, Hanoi Highway, National Highway 22, Vo Van Kiet Boulevard and National Highway 50, he said.

Truong blamed the increase in accidents and fatalities on people's violation of traffic laws, inadequate infrastructure and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the city's People's Committee, ordered the Transport Department, the Police Department and transport associations and companies to find solutions to reduce the number of traffic accidents.

Duong Hong Thanh, deputy director of the HCMC Transport Department, said the city should allocate VND30 billion (US$1.44 million) for a project to build barriers separating car and motorcycle lanes on National Highway 1A.

He also proposed that the municipal government approves a pilot plan to have an exclusive lane for buses to reduce traffic congestion.

The city should also raise fines for traffic violations, he said.

Ngo Minh Chau, deputy director of the HCMC Police Department, asked the Traffic Safety Committee to buy more breath analyzers and speed detectors.

He said investigators of traffic accidents should be stricter in punishing drivers under the influence who've caused accidents. Legal action should be taken against them even if victims' families withdraw their complaints, he said.

Chairman Quan agreed with all the proposals. He also said 1.2 million handbooks with traffic instructions will be delivered to households in the city in June.

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