Have you ever been in a situation in which you are driving on the street in a good mood when a pool of saliva or a plastic bag of someone’s nasty vomit fly straight in your face from out of nowhere?
Many drivers have fallen ‘victim’ to disgusting puddles of saliva ejected by mindless motorcyclists in Vietnam.
They blasted the habit of spitting while driving on the street, usually onto the faces of fellow drivers, as a culturally inappropriate act, a health hazard, and a potential accident trigger.
Doctor Tran Ba Thoai wrote to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he once had to return home and get changed after being spit on by a motorcyclist on his way to work.
Ejected saliva may contain phlegm, which is a combination of mucus, damaging bacteria and dust, he noted.
Medically speaking, puddles of saliva are riddled with bacteria and ultraviruses and can serve as carriers of such contagious diseases as tuberculosis, flu, whooping cough, and measles.
The seemingly harmless habit can also be an indirect cause of traffic accidents, as the dazed ‘victims’ tend to stop their bikes abruptly to wipe the saliva from their faces or uncovered limbs, or suddenly careen their bikes or duck to avoid being the next ‘victim,’ Dr. Thoai said.
The spitting can also trigger conflicts and scuffles. Fatal incidents may happen as well.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tran Ngoc Luu Phuong, of Ho Chi Minh City-based Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital, pointed out several illnesses some people may have that can result in overly activated saliva secretion, including chronic hepatitis, pharyngitis, or the side effects of medications.
Despite their constant need to eject the amount of unwanted saliva, Dr. Phuong recommended that those people should swallow the saliva as they pose no harm to their health, or spit it into facial tissues and then throw them into garbage bins.
Patients of chronic sinusitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, and the like should resist the urge to spurt their drool or phlegm and wait until they park their bikes near the sidewalk to spit it out.
Many Tuoi Tre readers also whined that plastic bags containing road-sick passengers’ sickening vomit or leftover food boxes and bottles are usually flung from speeding buses on highways and end up on their faces.
One of them said that he and others have been constantly exposed to such nasty things from passing coaches or tourist buses while driving in his hometown, the coastal resort city of Vung Tau, which is some 100 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City.
A Tuoi Tre illustration cartoon depicts a man spitting in the face of his fellow motorcyclist.
Le Van Thanh, of the Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies, believed it is high time the media blasted such acts to help change these people’s habit.
He also called for penalties to be slapped on those people having such bad manners.
Lawyer Huynh Van Nong, of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, suggested traffic police should be tasked with punishing people committing the misdemeanors.
“The act done by a pedestrian is less detrimental than that by a motorcyclist, which repulses their fellow drivers and can even result in traffic accidents,” Nong said.
Decision 105 issued in 2013 by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee stipulated that a person shall be fined VND10,000-50,000 (US$0.5-2.3) if spitting in public places, he added.
The decision was scrapped a few years later, however.