A seasoned driver and a driving teacher joined Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s “Make Vietnam traffic great again” forum with complaints that most Vietnamese drivers tend to use their headlights and horns in a thoughtless and inconsiderate way.
Read their stories below and please leave a comment or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to join in the discussion.
Daily horning and lighting
(Tran Kiem Ha, driver)
Today there are still a considerable number of drivers who use their headlights or horns without consideration. At crossroads, where they are supposed to reduce their speed, drivers try to run red lights and repeatedly honk their horns. Other drivers will repeatedly honk when there is still three seconds left on the red light.
Even when traveling on urban roads, drivers continue to use air horns freely, startling other people, especially motorbike drivers. And yet, they simply laugh when seeing other drivers surprised by their sudden, loud honking.
In rural areas, there are cases when people have been startled and fallen off their motorbikes due to the ear-piercing sound of the air horns. There are also cases when cars carelessly use their high beams, dazzling motorbike drivers traveling in the opposite direction and causing them to crash into power poles or even fall into the sewage.
In most cases, inconsiderate drivers are not held responsible or made to pay any price. The sound of their horns or the flashing of their headlights leaves no evidence.
Some drivers have installed a special switch, allowing them to shift from air horns to electric horns in a second, so law enforcement officers can’t catch them in the act.
Lights and horns are tools for drivers to inform others of their presence to avoid accidents. But some drivers just do not seem to know how to use them properly. Of course there are drivers who blow their horn in a considerate manner, and those who avoid flashing their high beams into the faces of other drivers.
However, there are still many rude drivers who do the opposite.
Vietnam’s traffic law stipulates that cars should use horns to signal during the daytime, and headlights at night. The law also bans air horns and high beams in crowded areas and urban streets, so as not to shock other people, or cause accidents. There are also rules stating clearly where drivers should not use their horns.
All of these rules seem to be invisible in the eyes of rude drivers.
Using horns only when really necessary
(Truong Nhat Vuong, driving teacher)
One of my students told me one day that only after attending a driving course did he know that proper honking is part of traffic culture.
In reality, many drivers tend to thoughtlessly blow their horn, even though in driving class, we teachers always carefully show them how to use it appropriately with clear, easy-to-understand examples.
For instance, we teach them that when driving on Christmas Eve past a church crowded by many, honking their horn attracts eyebrows from the crowd. The right thing to do here is to slow down and let people step aside.
We also teach drivers that horns should only be used when necessary.
When you see a man carrying his wife on a motorbike, with their little baby sleeping peacefully in her arms, will you blow your air horn? Sadly, many will, scaring the happy family away.
There are hundreds of excuses one can make for hurriedly traveling on the street and using horns inconsiderately. The biggest excuse: you cannot travel in Vietnam without honking!
Still, careless honking is simply an indicator that this driver lacks both experience and patience. That’s it.