Rampant traffic violations reflect on the need for better public transportation

By Luong Son   July 3, 2024 | 03:38 pm PT
Rampant traffic violations reflect on the need for better public transportation
Two buses in the middle of a traffic jam on the Hanoi Highway, Thu Duc City, HCMC in 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
In just a few moments when I stopped my motorbike and waited for the red light at an intersection on Hoang Dieu Street in downtown HCMC, I counted a series of people breaking the law.

Four people stopped their motorbikes past the red light line in the direction towards Ong Lanh Bridge. A motorbike turned left, forcing vehicles in the opposite direction to stop. Five other motorbikes stopped past the red light line towards the Saigon River. One person stopped on the road right at the intersection while they are supposed to keep driving. The streams of vehicles coming from all directions combined with these violators caused the narrow intersection to quickly become dense.

A car from the Calmette Bridge turned left onto Hoang Dieu and was stopped by the police with a siren for trying to get through the intersection while the light was still red.

The intersection was crowded at 5:30 p.m., after office hours, so when the green light turned on, it took me 7 seconds to move ahead. But that's not all. When I was only about 4 meters away from crossing the intersection, three cars on the opposite side turned left, cutting me off to get onto the Calmette bridge, instead of going around to the right. This is a common habit among many Vietnamese drivers.

Additionally, at the corner of the Calmette Bridge and its right side on Hoang Dieu Street, many people and motorbikes stopped in the middle of the road to eat, buy food on the sidewalk, and repair their vehicles, further obstructing traffic flow.

In just 45 short seconds, I counted at least 17 people committing traffic violations. That’s all I could count because I was also concentrating on driving. These widespread violations happen everywhere and are a significant reason why intersections in Vietnam are so prone to traffic jams.

When a few people violate traffic laws, we can correct them with enforcement. However, when there are too many violators, we need to adjust our traffic policies. The only viable solution is to minimize the use of personal vehicles by providing the best and most suitable public transportation.

Forty-five individuals riding 45 motorbikes and cars can easily violate traffic laws and cause traffic jams. However, if these 45 people could ride air-conditioned buses that are cool, clean, convenient, and have regular schedules, then who would still want to break the law?

Public transport riders will not conveniently stop in the middle of the road to buy food or eat a meal. Thus, public transport will simultaneously help Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi eliminate sidewalk businesses that encroach on the roads.

Many have discussed how to implement this solution. The problem is whether we are determined to do it or not.

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