More drunk drivers in Saigon than major Asian cities

By An Nguyen   November 19, 2019 | 12:00 am PT
More drunk drivers in Saigon than major Asian cities
Several motorbike drivers, including one not wearing a crash helmet, encroach on the sidewalk to avoid traffic congestion in HCMC, September 2, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
A survey has found 10.3 percent of drivers in HCMC with excessive blood alcohol levels, higher than in Mumbai and Shanghai.

Of the four Asian cities surveyed, Bangkok topped the drunk driving scale with 23 percent, against 0.3 percent in Shanghai and 1.7 percent in Mumbai.

These figures were revealed at a workshop organized by the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety 2015-2019 in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

Dr. Qingfeng Li of John Hopkins’s International Health department said: "The rate in HCMC is very high. This is especially worrying since there are more than seven million vehicles here."

Other research factors include speeding, not wearing helmets, and not using seatbelts and other restraints.

While only 1.4 percent of all vehicles in the Vietnamese city were found exceeding speed limit, the rate was low only because of high traffic density, which generated constant and prolonged traffic congestion. The majority of speeding offenders were motorcycles and cargo trucks the least likely to exceed speed limits, the survey found.

Although most motorcycle riders wear helmets, only 67.4 percent of them wore them properly (meeting quality standards). More men than women wore helmets properly. 70.5 percent of motorcycle drivers wore helmets correctly, while only 59.1 percent of pillion riders did so.

53.2 percent of adult vehicle occupants (cars, vans, trucks, SUVs, cargo trucks...) wore seatbelts with more women than men complying with this safety measure. While 62.7 percent of drivers wore seatbelts, only 31.1 percent of passengers did so. The percent of children under age five harnessed with proper restraint was just 8.4 percent.

The study authors suggested more rigorous enforcement of laws on helmets and seatbelts, and on drinking and driving with emphasis on motorcycles, as well as speeding by motorcycles. They also called for mass media campaigns promoting proper helmet and seatbelt use among passengers, children, and women.

The research study was a part of the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety Phase 2, 2015-2019. The initiative aims to reduce traffic injuries and deaths in low-and-middle income countries by funding interdisciplinary research and applying results to advocate interventions such as strengthening legislation and generating media campaigns for safe traffic practices.

The research in Ho Chi Minh City is done by John Hopkins University’s International Injury Research Unit in cooperation with the Center for Injury Policy and Prevention Research of Hanoi University of Public Health. Eight rounds of research were conducted at key traffic points, observing 927,000 cases from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in January, February, July and August this year.

Vietnam recently passed the Law on Preventing Alcohol’s Harmful Effects, under which drivers with any amount of blood alcohol level will have their driving license revoked.

Road crashes continue to be a leading cause of death in the country. Official figures say over 14,000 traffic accidents occurred in the first 10 months of this year, killing nearly 6,318 people and injuring over 10,000.

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