A fatal accident in which a tractor trailer ploughed into nearly two dozen motorbikes stopped at a traffic light, killing four, in the Mekong Delta province of Long An on Wednesday has sparked a nationwide call for action to be taken against the blatant traffic violations perpetrated by truck drivers throughout the country.
Though the accident occurred on a highway, people who depend on smaller roads to commute live in constant fear of being mauled by trucks illegally traveling through restricted residential areas.
Most urban streets in Vietnam ban heavy vehicles during day time hours, meaning large vehicles are essentially restricted to belt roads surrounding municipalities when motorists are likely to be on inner city roads.
Unfortunately, these restrictions do little to stop truck drivers from cutting through heavily populated urban areas.
The problem is particularly visible in Ho Chi Minh City.
Many of the city’s main arteries, such as Cach Mang Thang Tam, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, and Hai Ba Trung, are relentlessly burdened by cargo trucks nearly twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, despite the vehicles being banned from using these roads from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
|A truck is seen illegally traveling on an inner road in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
On December 21, Tuoi Tre (Youth) reporters noticed a ten-ton truck making its way down Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street at 9:50 pm, ten minutes before it was legally allowed to use the road.
The situation is no different on Hai Ba Trung Street, which connects two inner districts of the southern metropolis. Between 8:00 am and 10:00 am that morning reporters observed nearly 30 trucks barrelling down the street.
In just 20 minutes, dozens of oversize trucks had been spotted running up and down the road.
As most of these streets are small and constantly congested, this phenomenon creates considerable safety concerns from commuters who depend on these roads.
Traffic police ‘unable to resolve’
In an interview with Tuoi Tre, Pham Le Lam, an official from the inspectorate of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport, admitted that traffic inspectors are spread too thin to put an end to the blatant disregard for traffic regulations.
Still, he affirmed that inner city routes are mostly free from cargo trucks weighing more than five metric tons from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
According to Lam, only 202 trucks have approval from the transport department to enter the downtown area for public, construction, and infrastructure services.
“In order to put a stop to the issue, the city’s transport department must be more rigid in its law enforcement,” Lam said.
He suggested that drivers caught violating the law have their licenses confiscated and tigheter restrictsions be placed on trucks seeking permission to enter restrictred routes.
In outer districts, authorities have proposed several solutions to mitigate the issue in outer districts, where drivers are in a constant race to get to shipping ports on time, but little headway has been made.