Who really violated the traffic laws?
Updated : 07/04/2012 15:09 GMT + 7
A German reader living in Hanoi commented on the controversial acts of George Heydlauff (sometimes misspelled as George Heydlaulff) when he regulated traffic in the Vietnamese capital by himself. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of TuoiTreNews.
I totally agree that traffic in Hanoi is more chaotic than ever. People seem to dash here and there without any thought of the law, paying heed only when a police officer is in sight. The government must seriously consider tackling this a top priority.
As for Mr. Heydlauff who decided to single-handedly stop those who rode against traffic, I, with utmost sympathy and respect, disagree with his actions.
I sympathize with him because he had good reasons to do it as he and his child were nearly hit by a motorist traveling the wrong way. I respect him because he was very brave walking to and fro across a busy street like that, which I could never do (I tried to cross the crazy Hanoi streets as least as possible). I also respect him because he dared do what few foreigners dare not think of: bringing harmony and safety to the streets of the capital, standing up to violators, some of whom surely are not in a good mood and could attack him any time.
But even so, I beg to differ with him on some points:
First: Is he authorized, allowed to regulate the traffic? Clearly he’s not allowed to vote, to buy a house, to join the army or police forces as he is a foreigner.
Second: Is he allowed to seize the rear end of a travelling motorbike like that shown on 00:39 in the second clip. As I know, even the Vietnamese traffic cops are not allowed to do that, let alone Mr. Heydlauff, a foreign civilian. Pulling motorbikes while they are moving could lead to serious accidents.
Third: Suppose the motorist fell down after Mr. Heydlauff grasped at his/her bike. And suppose an approaching car struck it and injured the motorist. Who would be to blame here? Mr. Heydlauff? The car driver? Or the victim him/herself?
Fourth: Mr. Heydlauff was walking to and fro wearing normal clothes like a normal tourist and did not send any signal that he was regulating traffic. This could lead the stopped violator into thinking he/she is being attacked. What would you think if you were riding and were confronted by a big guy speaking an alien language (not everyone understands English)? What would you think if a stranger suddenly grasped your bike? I speak for everyone, including those with heart problems.
The more I think about it, the more I lean towards my theory that this man is trying to get a 30-second YouTube fame. He himself more than anyone should know that he can’t change anything. Traffic violations have been debated long and hard by top Vietnamese officials, lawmakers, media and experts. It’s not they don’t want to change, it’s just too difficult to change due to reasons like bad infrastructure with narrow, labyrinthine alleys and too much congestion. I don’t approve the violation but I sympathize with the violators.
In fact, driving in the wrong direction is so common in Hanoi nowadays that the act albeit illegal is quite accepted and ingrained in the mindset here.
When a traffic policeman stops a violator, the latter would be happy to comply but when a civilian does it, likelihood would be that the violator would argue, which could lead to road rage scuffles.
My advice: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I do not advise you to ride against the traffic but to live along with the currents and not take the laws into your own hands. It’s neither the time nor the place to play cops.
Hauser R. is a German citizen living and working in Hanoi.