New traffic rules irk Vietnam cabbies, police

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A stricter and heavier traffic fine regime took effect in Vietnam on May 20 but taxi drivers and traffic police say some of the new rules are difficult to follow and confusing.

The decree imposed fines of VND300,000-500,000 (US$16-26) if taxi drivers pick up or drop off passengers at prohibited areas.

Ta Long Hy, an official from the taxi cooperative Vinasun and chairman of Ho Chi Minh City Taxi Association, told the Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper that the fines were "too difficult to avoid as cabs now have to drop their customers off hundreds of meters or even a kilometer from their destinations.

The new traffic regulation decree also suggested building more parking lots for taxi cabs around downtown to save fuel and time for drivers.

But Hy said the idea was impossible as there simply wasn't any more space for parking.

Decree No. 34 imposes many other penalties on taxi drivers.

They will be fined VND150,000 if they don't use the fare meter.

And they will have to pay VND2.5 million if they don't have a fare meter installed, or if the paint colors, logo and phone number on their cab are different from the ones registered by their taxi firm or cooperative.

Hoang Anh Dung, a Vinasun driver, said the decree would help passengers avoid unregistered taxi cabs and from being overcharged.

But traffic police said they needed further guidance to carry out the decree.

The decree distinguishes penalties for drivers who do not bring their driver's license and for those who don't have driver's licenses. But police have asked what should happen if the driver does not have his or her license but does have the documents that prove they were issued a license.

They also asked whether or not certified copies of vehicle registration papers would be acceptable as many drivers use the registration to take out loans and can only produce a copy.

Decree No. 34 imposed fines of VND300,000-500,000 on drivers who speed 5-10 kilometer/hour more than allowed, VND800,000- 1.2 million if drivers speed 10-20 km/h more than allowed, VND2-3 million if drivers speed 20-35 km/h and 4-6 million for faster speeds.

Travelers will be fined VND600,000-800,000 if they are not on the right side of the road and VND800,000-1.2 million if they drive on a banned street or against the direction allowed on a one-way street.

Drivers whose breathalyzer tests exceed 0.25 milligrams of alcohol per liter will be subject to fines between VND2-6 million.

Drivers who drive recklessly or chase each other on the street will have to pay VND8-12 million.

They will be fined VND30-40 million if they a organize race, no matter what vehicles are involved.

Punishments between VND10- 40 million will be imposed on construction that encroaches onto road areas without a permit.

Those who set up vehicle stations, parking lots or toll fee collection stations without permits will face fines between VND30-40 million.

The decree fines vehicle registration agencies VND4-6 million if they violate operational rules and if they employ people who are not well-trained.

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