A police officer does a breathalyzer test on a truck driver / FILE PHOTO
Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have ordered transport companies to organize health checks for their drivers and test them for drugs as part of efforts to improve traffic safety.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported Tuesday that the Department of Transport's move follows a crackdown in the northern city of Hai Phong in February, which saw hundreds of drivers being sacked for using drugs.
Hai Phong was the first locality to take action following persistent media reports about drug use among long-distance truck and bus drivers.
Duong Hong Thanh, deputy director of the department, said that some 60,000 bus, truck, and taxi drivers would be covered.
Drivers found to take drugs have to be dismissed, Thanh said, and their names would be blacklisted by the department so that they cannot find other driving jobs.
The department has made the checks annual, warning that companies failing to do them would lose their licenses.
The tests are to be done at health centers recommended by the city Department of Health, Thanh said.
The aim is to reduce accidents caused by drivers with problems like high blood pressure and poor vision and those using drugs and other substances.
Phan Thai Binh, general secretary of the HCMC Taxi Association, said the plan would not be successful if the transport department relies just on test results and businesses’ reports.
He said drivers could cheat by using others’ urine for the tests and so businesses need to keep a constant eye on drivers and sack those showing signs of drug use.
The department also needs to so surprise checks, he added.
Thanh said his agency would not rely solely on the checks done by the businesses and would have its inspectors check drivers on the road and at bus stations and ports.
According to the National Traffic Safety Committee, there 29,385 road accidents last year in which 9,369 people were killed and 29,500 others injured.
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