Truck drivers use expressway emergency lane as rest area

By Hoang Nam   August 29, 2019 | 05:14 pm PT
Truck drivers use expressway emergency lane as rest area
Trucks stop over along an emergency stopping lane on HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway, August 28, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam.
Lacking rest stops, drivers in southern Vietnam have taken to using an expressway's emergency stop lane to take a nap.

At 5 a.m. on Wednesday, dozens of trucks pulled over in a yard of more than 300 square meters (360 square yards) that belongs to a rest area in Long An Province that neighbors Ho Chi Minh City. 

The yard has been a resting location for three years, although it is not officially a parking lot.

The rest area lies along Ho Chi Minh City-Trung Luong Expressway, a major route in southern Vietnam that connects HCMC with the Mekong Delta region.

After the yard became full, drivers that arrived later drove into an emergency stop lane, which is not very far away, parked their vehicles and began to rest.

Very quickly, on both sides of the expressway, sections of more than 100 meters each of the emergency lanes were filled with cars, container trucks and tankers. Some almost encroached into the lane outside the emergency stopping lane.

The situation caused difficulties for other vehicles, with drivers slowing down and honking nonstop.

After napping for less than an hour, Nguyen Thanh Mong, a container truck driver who was carrying cargos to the Mekong Delta, said he and other drivers who take a rest on the expressway are all those who have to drive a long way.

The Mekong Delta lies six-seven hours southwest of HCMC and in many cases, drivers even travel to or from cities and provinces in the east of HCMC, which means longer travel time.

"We are aware that parking like this is against the rules but there is not any rest stops along the expressway and if we keep driving we might fall asleep but if we choose some random places along the road, we're scared of thieves or robbers," said Mong.

A truck driver sleeps on Ho Chi Minh City-Trung Luong Expressway, August 29, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam.

A truck driver sleeps on Ho Chi Minh City-Trung Luong Expressway, August 29, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam.

Nguyen Van Thanh, Director of the Road Administration No.4, which manages the expressway, said drivers pulling over along the emergency stopping lane is a "thorny" problem that is also happening at several other sections along the expressway in Long An.

His unit and traffic police had handled more than 1,000 violations this year.

"We haven’t recorded any cases of accidents caused by drivers resting on the expressway. But this is still very dangerous," he said.

To cope with the problem, the administration is planning on proposing stricter punishment for violating drivers.

Pham Cam Thuy, representative of the investor of the rest stop on the expressway, said they will add a parking lot in two months to provide more space for drivers to park and get rest.

The road administration No.4 office said given the heavy traffic on the expressway, it needs at least one more rest area with parking lot.

Put into service in 2010, HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway stretches 62 kilometers (38.5 miles) with six lanes for vehicles to move at maximum speeds of 120 km per hour.

It costs VND10 trillion ($430 million) and is the only expessway between HCMC and the Mekong Delta, the country's first basket and major source of its fruits and seafood.

On peak traffic days, more than 51,000 vehicles travel on this route every day.

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