Vietnam's bus driver faces hefty fare after being caught playing on phone

By Doan Loan   March 20, 2017 | 07:11 pm GMT+7

An online video shows him texting, calling and playing games on his phone with a bus full of passengers.

The National Traffic Safety Committee has called for a bus driver to be punished after a video was posted online of him playing with his phone while driving a crowded bus.

The committee said it had received complaints about the driver in the northern province of Tuyen Quang, saying he had been texting, calling and playing games on his phone. In a video published online on Monday, his assistant was also seen on the phone.

The bus was caring dozens of passengers, the passengers said.

The committee has ordered Tuyen Quang’s transport department to investigate the driver, and asked his company to discipline him.

A new law, effective from the beginning of this year, imposes fines of VND600,000 ($26) to VND800,000 ($35) on car and truck drivers caught using their phones while driving. Before, only motorbike drivers were subject to these fines.

The law was put in place after several deadly crashes, including one in October 2014 when a bus driver in the central province of Nghe An killed a family of three on a motorbike. Police found the driver had been talking on his cellphone.

Different reports show that nearly 40 percent of Vietnam's population of around 92 million have a smartphone. Eight in 10 Vietnamese are projected to have the device by 2020.

Only a few studies on the link between cellphone use and road accidents have been carried out in the country.

International studies suggest that drivers using a mobile phone are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than when they do not, according to the World Health Organization. Text messaging, specifically, creates a crash risk 23 times higher than when driving while not distracted, according to Distraction.gov., an official U.S. government website.

Traffic deaths remain high in Vietnam, killing an average of one person every hour.

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