Vietnam minister wants traffic punishment free from 'relations'

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The Vietnam minister of public security has suggested banning government officials from using their relations to help traffic violators avoid punishment.


Minister Tran Dai Quang said the punishment of traffic violations should be kept "strict and transparent" to improve traffic safety across the country.


The minister was speaking at a Hanoi conference in which many recommendations were made for bettering the country's traffic order in 2012.


Traffic violations in Vietnam are not considered a criminal offense, unless severe damage was caused to property or people's health. But the violators have to pay some fines, and their vehicles or licenses are revoked temporarily.


Quang said many violators usually used their relations at government offices to ask for help in reducing their punishment.


"The traffic police officers would always receive phone calls from some government officials in the middle of their work," he said. "Some traffic officers were criticized and rebuked after they failed to reduce the punishment," Quang said, unwilling to reveal the officials making the criticism.


The ministry said since last year, 225 traffic police officers have been punished for taking bribes from traffic violators.


Quang also said that the traffic violation punishment will work better if car drivers submit penalty fines via their bank accounts, instead of paying cash at a state treasury.


Statistics by the National Committee of Traffic Safety showed that more than 11,000 traffic accidents occurred during the first 10 months of 2011, killing nearly 9,300 people and injuring 8,400 others.



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Around 80 percent of severe accidents were caused by passenger buses.


Although the number of traffic accidents has dropped for the fourth consecutive year, Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang said "the traffic order across the country is still complicated."


Thang asked Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City authorities to urgently move colleges and universities from the downtown, stop the development of hospitals in the downtown, and limit the number of private vehicles in the area.


Authorities in the two major cities are working on their plans to adjust the official working hours for different units to reduce traffic congestion. Hanoi is expected to use the new hours at the beginning of 2012.


Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at the conference that local governments should consider traffic safety their primary mission.


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