In deadly traffic accidents, the blame goes beyond drivers

By Luu Dinh Long   January 17, 2019 | 01:05 pm GMT+7

Systemic greed should be seen as the driving force behind traffic accidents caused by road rage and reckless driving.

Luu Dinh Long, a journalist

Journalist Luu Dinh Long

Life is sacred.

No one can deny its sanctity.

It is only through being alive that one can enjoy all that life offers: beauty, fame, fortune and so on. Life presents us the opportunity to forge our own path and make our dreams a reality.

And if we value our life, we have to value the life of others, too.

It is unbelievable that there are people who do not get this. We can add some of our drivers to this list.

Last year, 8,400 human lives were lost on the roads of Vietnam. According to the World Health Organization, road accidents are the leading cause of death for people between 15 and 29 years of age. For every 100,000 people on the road, 26 die in accidents in Vietnam.

Earlier this month, a truck killed 4 and injured at least 20 others waiting at a traffic light in the southern province of Long An. Driver Pham Thanh Hieu, 32, was found to have been high on liquor and heroin when the carnage happened. Further investigations have revealed that approximately 30 percent of truck drivers in Vietnam regularly use drugs while on the road.

A cyclo driver flirts with danger as a container truck goes past on Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Hai Phong City. Photo by VnExpress

A truck drives past a cyclo driver in Hai Phong in northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/File

This finding certainly didn't help public perception of trucks, including container trucks, bad as it is already. Since these vehicles often take most of the available space on roads, spilling over two or even three lanes at times, smaller vehicles have to squeeze themselves into very narrow spaces to fit in, adding significantly to traffic risks.

And when the drivers of these vehicles drive under the influence, of liquor or drugs or both, the dangers are magnified, and reckless driving and road rage become common occurrences on long roads in Vietnam.

How can people manning such large vehicles, instead of displaying added responsibility, do the opposite?

In inquiries by the police and reporters, the truck drivers have begun to tell their stories. They said some employers, for the sake of making as much money as possible, hired many drivers as well, despite knowing that some of them were frequent drug users or consistently displaying streaks of aggression in traffic.

A friend of mine said some driving schools, in order to have as many students as possible, ignore some of the fundamental prerequisites before choosing them.

Apparently, in Vietnam, owning a driving license isn’t synonymous with being qualified to drive. While anyone can master the technical aspects of driving, from shifting gears to parallel parking, traffic etiquette seems to be a subject that many find difficult to grasp. Money, not surprisingly, plays a leading role in turning out drivers that are unfit in many ways to sit behind a steering wheel.

But we need to remember that everything in life is interconnected, one way or another. We can’t just condemn truck drivers; truck owners, driving schools and ultimately, transport authorities, are to blame as well. Next time we see a traffic accident, we should know that more than one person contributed to making that accident happen.

Amidst this fervent pursuit of money, each and everyone of should remember this: Life is a priceless gift.

When all of us realize this, we can refrain from actions that put other lives at risk, or worse.

*Luu Dinh Long is a Vietnamese journalist. The opinions expressed are his own.

 
 
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