Vietnam plans strict measures to address traffic 'emergency'

TN News

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Traffic on Vietnamese roads has become an "emergency situation" with the death toll from accidents higher than the fatalities from wars in other countries, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Monday.

Phuc told a national conference on traffic safety that the government is determined to decrease the number of traffic accidents by 5 to 10 percent every year, the VnExpress newswire reported.

Transport Minister Dinh La Thang said traffic jams in the nation's two most crowded cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, will go down 20 percent annually, including those that last for more than 30 minutes, the report said.

Thang said a variety of measures will be introduced next year, including regulations fixing authorities' responsibilities for lessening accidents and preventing traffic jams.

Tran Dai Quang, Minister of Public Security, suggested tightening control over drivers when they take driving tests and after they have acquired licenses, considering that 80 percent of traffic accidents are caused by driver error.

Quang also pledged that his ministry will strictly punish officers who accept bribes from traffic violators. In fact, the ministry has penalized 225 officers in the past two years, he said.

Nguyen The Thao, chairman of Hanoi People's Committee, hoped that the government will issue a policy to restrict personal vehicles, especially cars that take up more space in the street than motorbikes.

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He stressed that good zoning plans will be a boost for Vietnam in reducing traffic congestion, while cities need to invest more in infrastructure.

The newswire quoted the National Traffic Safety Committee as saying that 11,000 accidents have taken place across Vietnam in the first 10 months of 2011, killing more than 9,200 people and injuring more than 8,300.

Compared to the same period last year, the number of accidents has decreased 1.6 percent, while fatalities have gone down 1.2 percent. However, the number of injured people has increased 2.6 percent, it reported.

"Traffic accidents separate many people and cause instability in the society. Many countries are in wars, but their fatalities aren't as high as Vietnam's traffic accident death toll," Phuc said.

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