HCMC traffic deaths lowest in 20 years: official

By Gia Minh   November 27, 2020 | 05:33 pm GMT+7
HCMC traffic deaths lowest in 20 years: official
Motorbikes hit by a car in HCMC, November 19, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van.
A combination of tough measures and increased public awareness has seen HCMC record its lowest traffic deaths in two decades – 516 in January-November.

In the past three years, the number of traffic accidents and related fatalities has dropped annually, Colonel Huynh Trung Phong, head of the Road and Railway Traffic Police Division of the city’s Police Department, said at a conference Thursday.

Looking back two decades, 2002 was the deadliest year, with 1,410 traffic accident deaths, he said.

The situation has improved because the city has steadfastly and firmly implemented safety measures, including raising public awareness, he said.

HCMC has led the nation in punishing driving under the influence (DUI) violations.

This year, more than 31,000 drivers have been fined for DUI offenses under the Law on Preventing Alcohol's Harmful Effects that took effect on January 1. Nationwide, more than 156,000 drivers have been fined.

"There have been months when the city handled nearly 14,000 violations, while the nationwide figure was just 53,000," Phuong said. He said the city would continue to focus on DUI offenses as a main reason for traffic accidents.

Under the new law, any driver with alcohol on his or her breath faces fines of VND400,000-600,000 ($17-26) on bicycles or electric motorbikes. For motorbike drivers, the fines are VND6-8 million, and for cars, VND30-40 million. All drivers can have their licenses revoked for 22-24 months.

Tran Quang Lam, director of the municipal Transport Department, said that since 2016, the city has also invested in a number of traffic infrastructure projects to reduce gridlocks and accidents. As of August this year, it had finished building 72 bridges, upgraded and put into use a total of 384 km (240 miles) of roads. This has helped ease traffic jams in many areas, especially major gateways like the Cat Lai Port in District 2 and the Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

"Access to investment and the time-consuming site clearance process remain the biggest obstacles," Lam said, explaining that this has led to many traffic infrastructure projects remaining incomplete.

City chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said at the conference that in the past three years, the city has put into use 57 traffic infrastructure projects worth more than VND11 trillion ($473.21 million) in total, which has helped minimize traffic congestion in many areas.

"Despite such efforts, the city’s traffic infrastructure is still put under a lot of pressure due to a significant increase in the number of private vehicles and sidewalks are still prone to encroachment," he said.

As of June, HCMC had 9.84 million private vehicles, up 7 percent against the same period last year. The number of cars went up 26 percent to 825,000 and that of motorbikes more than 6 percent to 8.12 million. From 2010, the number of private vehicles in the city has increased by more than four million.

Officials said at the meeting that from now until 2025, the city needs to continue with the measures it has been implementing in order to reduce the number of traffic accidents by 5 percent each year.

 
 
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