Walk shines spotlight on road safety

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Participants in the Long Short Walk in Hanoi Wednesday

A walk was held in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi Wednesday to mark the UN's Global Road Safety Week (May 6-11).

Participants included students from Ba Dinh Primary School, 2008 Miss Vietnam runner-up Thuy Van, and staff working for the event's organizers, the Hanoi Traffic Safety Committee and Asian Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF).

Road traffic injuries continue to claim approximately 11,000 lives every year in Vietnam and of the fatal crashes, nearly 15 percent involved pedestrians, AIPF said in a press release.

Its director of international development, Lotte Brondum, said vulnerable road users need to be prioritized as traffic continues to increase in intensity in Vietnam. 

"Unlike the safe paths of the Botanical Gardens where our event was held, the roads and sidewalks of Hanoi are perilous for pedestrians. Shop vendors, parked motorcycles, damaged pavements, and traffic driving over sidewalks all inhibit ease of movement and personal safety," she said.

"Our Long Short Walk highlights the need to improve conditions for pedestrians in Hanoi and across Vietnam.

"AIP Foundation is calling on road planners, traffic management authorities and motorists to prioritize vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, unhelmeted passengers, and children."

Binh, a participant from the Hanoi Traffic Safety Committee, said he walked for improved traffic signals and safer pedestrian crossings, which are part of a pedestrian campaign soon be launched by his agency.

Van said she is very concerned about the safety of her children when they walk on sidewalks because of the number of vehicles on the roads and the "unpredictable nature" of the traffic.

"By participating in the Long Short Walk, I am asking others to think about the safety of their children on the city's sidewalks and to drive safely at all times," she said.

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