A Vietnamese man who had his right leg amputated following an accident has been denied driving lessons, but the Ministry of Health claims he is physically capable of driving automatic transmission cars.
Le Xuan Quang, 56, was involved in a traffic accident 20 years ago that cost him his right leg.
Other than his amputated limb, Quang is in good shape, and the man is working as a physician at a hospital in Dak Lak Province in the Central Highlands.
“The hospital where I work is five kilometers from my house, so I want to drive a car to work for convenience, especially on rainy days,” Quang explained.
When Quang tried to register for a B1 driver's license course at a local driving school last year, his registration was turned down, as the school said it had been advised by the provincial Department of Transport that his amputation made him physically incapable of driving a car.
In Vietnam, B1 driver's licenses are granted to qualified drivers of automatic transmission cars with nine or less passenger seats, or non-business trucks weighing 3.5 metric tons or less.
B2 driver's licenses are granted to qualified drivers of manual transmission cars with nine or less passenger seats, or any truck weighing 3.5 metric tons or less.
Trinh Huu Kiem, an official at the provincial transport department, said the rejection of Quang’s registration for a B1 driver's license course was “for his own safety and that of the society.”
“Quang lost his right leg, and one of the mandatory requirements for driving an automatic transmission car was to use the right foot to apply force on the throttle and brake pedals,” Kiem explained. “How will he be able to react in a timely manner when faced with an emergency at high speed? That’s too dangerous for him and for everybody else. If he causes an accident, who will be to blame?”
“When you lose the right leg, it becomes very difficult to push those pedals, even when you have prosthetics,” Kiem added.
However, in a dispatch last September addressing the health department of Dak Lak, the Ministry of Health’s Department of Clinical Management claimed single-limb amputees such as Quang were physically capable of operating automatic cars according to Vietnamese laws.
Citing a 2015 joint circular on health requirements for drivers, the ministry said those who “have one arm or leg amputated or disabled while the remaining limbs are intact and functional” are “allowed to take driving lessons for A1 and B1 driver's licenses.”
However, those who “have two or more fingers of one hand amputated or disabled, or at least one foot amputated or disabled” are not allowed to obtain B2 driver's licenses (for manual transmission cars), according to the same circular.
All drivers must pass a driving test to see if they can satisfactorily handle different situations on the road in order to be granted a license, the ministry noted.