Unauthorized crossings make National Highway 5 stretch very dangerous: officials

By Doan Loan   July 24, 2019 | 07:23 am PT
Unauthorized crossings make National Highway 5 stretch very dangerous: officials
Five people were killed in an accident on National Highway 5 in Hai Duong Province early morning on July 23, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Chinh.
Unauthorized crossings locals make by breaking the divider and low road quality are causing fatal accidents on National Highway 5.

Local officials say that the population alongside the highway has been getting denser in recent years, and many people are creating their own crossings by breaking the divider despite being warned of the risks.

On the 17-kilometer section that passes through the accident-prone Kim Thanh District in Hai Duong Province, there are as many as 17 unauthorized crossings and only five footbridges.

"We usually block the crossings people open, but they continue to reopen them," Nguyen Van Huynh, director of the National Highway 5 management board under the road construction company Vietnam Infrastructure Development and Finance Investment Jsc (VIDIFI), told VnExpress.

People cross an unauthorized crossing on National Highway 5. Video by VnExpress/Gia Chinh

Vu Xuan Phong, head of the traffic safety division under the Hai Duong Transport Department, said that the best solution to prevent people from making their own crossings was to build more footbridges, but its limited budget has prevented the province from doing so.

Dao Quang Lap, a resident of Kim Thanh District, said that locals have asked authorities for a footbridge many times, but their request has not been fulfilled.

Road quality is another serious problem. Local residents say there are many potholes on the roads, some a few meters long.

Huynh of VIDIFI said that the company has made plans to renovate parts of the highway, but some administrative issues have delayed the plan to next year.

"For now, we will make temporary repairs on the road. We will also put more speed limit signs and traffic lights at crossings."

Another reason for the lack of safety on this highway section is unsuitable speed limits. The outer lane for cars has a speed limit of 90 km per hour (kph) and the middle lane for trucks have limit of 80 kph.

Phong said that these limits should be reduced to 60 kph near populated areas, and more signs need to be put to identify these areas.

In a tragic mishap, three fatal traffic accidents occurred within two hours (between 4 a.m and 6 a.m.) Tuesday morning on a kilometer section of the National Highway in Kim Thanh District, killing seven people and injuring three. The accidents caused traffic jams that stretched 10 kilometers long and lasted until nearly 1 p.m.

In the first accident, a person crossing the road at around 4:10 a.m. was killed when a 16-seater bus hit him.

In the second, a little more than a hour later, a collision between a container truck and a pickup truck killed a driver, some distance away from the first accident.

About half an hour later, the third accident occurred very near the spot of the first accident when a truck carrying bottled drinking water lost control and crashed into the street divider before flipping on its side at a legal crossing, crushing motorbike riders waiting in the middle of the road to cross to the other side.

The third accident killed five people and two were hospitalized with serious injuries. One of the five people killed was the cousin of the person killed in the first accident.

In a non-fatal accident at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning on the National Highway 5 section in the same district, a container truck hit another truck carrying concrete and both vehicles were badly damaged. However, there were no injuries, according to the police.

Since January, the Hai Duong stretch of the National Highway 5 has seen 21 traffic accidents, killing 28 people and injuring 22. Most of these accidents and deaths occurred in the section passing through Kim Thanh District.

National Highway 5, which connects Hanoi with the nearby provinces of Hung Yen, Hai Duong and Hai Phong, has a designed capacity of 17,000 vehicles a day, but often serves 56,000, according to official data.

Over half of these vehicles are over 10-ton trucks and containers, significantly increasing the road’s wear and tear.

Road crashes are a leading cause of deaths in Vietnam, killing almost one person every hour. A total of more than 18,720 traffic accidents occurred in 2018, killing 8,244 people and injuring nearly 14,800, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.

A truck carrying bottled water lost control and killed 5 people on July 23, 2019 in Hai Duong Province. Video acquired by VnExpress.

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