Vietnam ministries pass the buck on controversial driving regulations

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Two motorists with children drive on a HCMC street. Photo by Ngoc Thang

Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health said Saturday they have not prepared a draft decree that brings back controversial rules banning people with certain body measurements from driving motorbikes and other vehicles.

The rules had been scrapped five years ago.

Details of the draft joint decree, issued August 7, were released earlier yesterday by the transport ministry.

The draft includes regulations that allow only people who are at least 1.45 meters high, weigh 40 kilograms and have a chest measurement of at least 72 centimeters can drive 50cc to 175cc motorbikes. 

For cars and bigger vehicles, drivers have to be at least 1.6 meters tall, weigh at least 47 kilograms and have minimum chest measurement of 76 centimeters.

These provisions are similar to those issued in a decision by the health ministry on September 30, 2008, which took effect 15 days later and were canceled on November 8 the same year.

The draft decree has attracted severe public criticism. Many netizens have called it "weird," "in the sky" and discriminatory.

Tran Quy Tuong, deputy director of the Department of Examination and Treatment Management under the Health Ministry, said yesterday that no joint draft decree has been issued up to now since a joint-team has not been set up for the purpose.

He said his office will send requests to relevant agencies including the Transport Ministry, Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam Transportation Association and National Traffic Safety Committee on Monday to propose that they assign members to such a team.

Tuong said it was the Health Authority under the Ministry of Transport that wanted to include the scrapped 2008 regulations in the new draft decree.

Tuong said before starting work on the draft decree, the joint-team should undertake a survey of height, weight and chest measurements of the drivers and motorists in the country and use it as the basis for drafting feasible regulations.

However, speaking to Thanh Nien Sunday, Pham Thanh Lam, deputy head of the Health Authority of Ministry of Transport, said a team was established early this month and that he himself is a member.

He said the draft joint decree completed on August 7 was done by a team that included representatives of the ministries of health and transport.

But it was still not the final draft and the physique requirements in the draft will be adjusted to suit Vietnamese people, he added.

He said the draft decree is set to be finalized in 2014 and submitted to the ministers of transport and health, and it will only be issued after both ministries agree on all its provisions.

Vu Van Trien, head of the Health Authority of Ministry of Transport said the health ministry is the one that is leading formulation of the draft decree. The transport ministry was only a participant, he said.

Khuong Kim Tao, spokesperson for the National Traffic Safety Committee, said regulations relating to drivers and motorists should not focus too much on height and weight.

Tao said with many improvements in modern vehicles, traffic safety depends more on the driving quality than the drivers' measurements.

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