Traveling on Vietnamese freeways poses several life-threatening risks, including rampant tailgating, grazing cattle, and billowing clouds of smoke.
An enormous volume of traffic moves daily on two of southern Vietnam’s busiest roads: the 62-kilometer Ho Chi Minh City-Trung Luong Expressway, which links the southern metropolis with the Mekong Delta, and the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway, a 56 kilometer thoroughfare running between the city and neighboring Dong Nai province.
More than 47,000 vehicles travel the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway on a daily basis, according to Nguyen Viet Tan, director of the Vietnam Expressway Services Engineering Joint Stock Company (VECE).
Many of the cars and trucks which use the road find themselves in self-inflicted dangerous situations due to bad driving habits which seem to be the norm, such as zipping down the highway at over 100 kilometers per hour but maintaining a following distance of merely 30-50 meters compared to the legally required 70 meters.
Other factors, such as rain, only contribute to the dangers.
Huynh Tan Tai, owner of a Ho Chi Minh City-based firm which operates a fleet of long-haul buses, commented that few drivers proactively maintain a safe distance on expressways.
“I often see vehicles overtaking each other and attempting to squeeze into any space of empty road.”
Drivers also tend to just stop their vehicles in the middle of the road when they have a break down and usually don’t signal when they want to pull in somewhere, he added.
|Vehicles travel on the Ho Chi Minh City-Trung Luong Expressway (L). Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Wandering animals and smoke billowing across roads also create serious obstacles for the country's drivers.
Most Vietnamese expressways cross rural areas and are flanked by rice paddies, where dogs and free-roaming cows occasionally find themselves in the path of incoming traffic.
The latest related incident played out on May 27 on the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway when a cow from an unsupervised herd wandered across the road, forcing drivers to swerve around the animal.
Ho Chi Minh City, tasked with managing the freeway, has not presented any solutions to the cow-on-road problem, said Nguyen Thi Hoai Phuong, deputy director VECE.
In early April, a series of crashes on the same expressway when an enormous cloud of smoke blanketed the highway after drifting over from a controlled grass fire started by local rice farmers.
Several cars and buses were severely damage but no casualties were reported.
The accident prompted the government to closely monitor field fires started by residents along the freeway and prepare an on-call fire truck in case a similar situation occurs.
So far, no regulations have been introduced to prohibit the burning, said VECE’s director Nguyen Viet Tan, adding that such actions on recently became considered as threats.