Foreigners involved in 500 road accidents a year in Vietnam

By Nguyen Quy   September 7, 2019 | 05:11 am PT
Foreigners involved in 500 road accidents a year in Vietnam
A traffic police officer explains to a foreign man about his traffic violation in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, August 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Minh Tan.
Carelessness and lack of knowledge of traffic laws are to blame for traffic violations by foreigners, according to senior police officers.

Major Dang Duc Minh of the People’s Police Academy said at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday that every year there are around 500 accidents involving foreigners, many fatal.

A high proportion of the violators are from South Korea, China and Laos, he said.

Minh blamed carelessness and ignorance of road rules.

Many foreigners have been caught driving at high speed, jumping red lights, not wearing helmets, and failing to produce driving licenses, he said.

Nguyen Van Thach, head of the traffic safety department under the Ministry of Transport, said motorbike rental services are to blame for increasing number of foreign traffic violations when foreign visitors currently can hire motorbikes without having to own a driving license.

Hurting tourism image

Authorities in HCMC, a top tourist destination in the country, have expressed determination to crack down on foreign traffic violators to ensure road safety and protect its tourism image.

In two weeks of a campaign to crack down on foreigners committing traffic violations that began on August 16 the police have caught 40 foreigners for breaking traffic laws and seized 28 motorbikes.

The police said language is a barrier when dealing with foreign violators, which typically takes 60-80 minutes compared to a few minutes in the case of Vietnamese offenders.

The largest fine collected from a foreign traffic violator during the campaign has been VND2.5 million ($107).

Colonel Huynh Trung Phong, head of the Road-Railway Traffic Police Division in the city, said the violations hurt the tourism image of the city and country.

Three foreign tourists were killed in road accidents in the city in the first eight months of this year, down 25 percent from a year ago, Phong added.

So violations by foreigners would be thoroughly dealt with and local authorities would tighten control over motorbike rental services, he said.

Besides, the city is considering distributing fliers on traffic laws to foreigners when they arrive, he added.

Data from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs shows that the number of foreign workers in Vietnam increased from 63,557 in 2011 to 83,046 in 2016.

HCMC is a leading tourist destination in Vietnam, with more than 4.2 million foreign arrivals in the first half of this year, a 10 percent jump. It expects 8.5 million to visit this year.

Road crashes are a leading cause of death in Vietnam, killing almost one person every hour. More than 9,000 traffic accidents occurred in the first half of this year, killing nearly 4,100 people and injuring over 7,000, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.

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