Debate over driving licenses for bikes under 50cc intensifies

By Doan Loan   November 24, 2023 | 04:30 am PT
Debate over driving licenses for bikes under 50cc intensifies
Hanoi traffic police fine students riding motorbikes and electric bicycles without wearinghelmets. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Lawmakers and experts are divided over a proposal requiring drivers to have a license for operating bikes under 50 cc, following an increase in traffic accidents involving teenagers.

At a National Assembly meeting on Nov. 21, legislator Ly Thi Lan from Ha Giang Province advocated for the regulation, citing a need for improved safety.

Under current Vietnamese law, individuals aged 18 above are allowed to drive motorbikes with capacity of 50 cc upwards, and they must have driving licenses. For bikes under 50 cc, those aged 16 and older can drive without a license.

Tran Huu Minh, office chief of the National Traffic Safety Committee, agreed, citing studies linking a majority of traffic accidents to teenagers, often involving motorbikes or mopeds under 50 cc.

Data of the Hanoi Traffic Police Department show that the causes of accidents related to teenagers driving bikes are entering the wrong lane (accounting for 34%), speed violations (30%) and a lack of observation (26%), said Minh.

He said that causes of accidents show that students lack traffic skills and knowledge.

Electric motorbikes and mopeds, though having capacities of under 50 cc, still have relatively high speeds (25-50 km/h), while students are not fully equipped with traffic knowledge and skills, leading to many accidents, he argued.

"It is very reasonable to suggest that people aged 16-18to have a driving license when driving electric motorbikes with a capacity of less than 4 KW or motorbikes with a capacity of less than 50 cc," he said.

According to the office chief, schools are currently providing traffic safety education in their curriculum, but students only have access to theories.

Meanwhile, in many European countries, drivers of electric motorbikes and mopeds under 50cc must take courses on traffic laws and basic driving skills, and at the end of the course, there is a test to issue a driver's license or certificate.

Phan Le Binh, an expert on urban traffic, said he agreed that teenagers should finish a training course and pass a test to drive bikes under 50 cc.

He also said that they should learn that from a training center instead of at school.

"We should not create more pressure for teachers because teaching driving skills and traffic rules are not their specialty."

Nguyen Van Quyen, chairman of the Vietnam Automobile Transportation Association, disagreed with the proposal, saying it would waste time, effort, money, and increase social costs.

He said that the regulation could result people giving and receiving bribes to issue such a license.

He proposed that schools should continue educating students on traffic safety while parents should teach their children to ensure that they will follow basic rules such as driving in the right lane and wearing helmets.

Traffic expert Nguyen Van Thanh also commented that for vehicles under 50 cc, electric bicycles do not have high speeds and the risk of accidents is not as high as large displacement vehicles.

"Requiring drivers to have a license when using bikes under 50 cc would be wasteful for society. Instead of that, the authorities should strictly handle cases of under 18s driving vehicles over 50cc or those who do not wear helmets, and coordinate with schools to educate students better," he said.

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