Frustrated and scared by commuting in Vietnam

By Staff reporters   November 25, 2022 | 05:00 pm PT
Frustrated and scared by commuting in Vietnam
Vehicles are stuck in a traffic jam at Hanoi's Dong Da District, April 29, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
When commuting, many Vietnamese tend to become aggressive and violent. They are willing to use their fists, take over the road, and honk their horns loudly instead of talking it out.

In Vietnam, words like courtesy, cooperation, and tolerance are seemingly non-existent in the dictionary of many drivers. Violations of traffic laws like encroaching on lanes, driving on the sidewalks, going in opposite directions, running red lights, speeding, etc... have long been common on Vietnamese roads. All of that makes commuting an incredibly stressful experience.

Reader Le Anh said: "Driving in Vietnam requires patience and quick reflexes to have timely responses to dangerous situations on the road.

There are the immature drivers who like showing off, going over the speed limit, colliding with other vehicles, and are always ready to use violence to solve problems.

Then there's the 'ninja' army, who are covered from head to toe, drive without looking, and turn and stop without warning.

We have the shippers, who drive recklessly, use their phones while driving, and often run in opposite directions to conveniently reach their destinations.

Then there's the drunkards, who drive carelessly, their eyes not fully open, and who can hit you anytime without warning.

Looking at the state of our country's traffic, there are only two words to describe my emotions: frustrated and horrified."

Sharing the same feeling of anxiety and insecurity, reader Huynhthanhlong shared: "While driving on the road, I feel terrified when I accidentally collide with another vehicle. Because the outcome is that I will get scratches on my vehicle if I get lucky, and if I don't, the car behind me will run me over. But it is true that driving in Vietnam requires drivers to always be on alert and never try to speed past the vehicle next to us; try to slow down a bit. It's better to be slow but safe for everyone."

Talking about the cause of Vietnam's traffic chaos, reader Afterlastangel said: "I am a Vietnamese. In the past month, I have had the opportunity to travel to the U.S. through many states, driving more than 2,000 miles by myself. I agree that there is chaos on the streets of Vietnam. The traffic is not orderly. Traffic accidents in our country are plenty but they each have their own reason.

More than 50 years ago, Vietnam's main means of transport were our feet and bicycles. In developed countries, safe traffic commuting has been taught for generations as part of a civilized culture. In Vietnam, if you ask certain people from two generations prior, there is no guarantee that they would know how to read or even drive on the road.

We should also bear in mind that our population density is very high. The traffic in densely populated and developing areas is really like that. If you have the opportunity to travel to India or Pakistan, you will understand. When the number of vehicles exceeds the capacity of the infrastructure, there is no perfect solution to the traffic problem.

Although we have found out the root of the problem, the solution needs to be applied step by step. Traffic laws have been gradually put into practice, including a plan to restrict private vehicles, to reduce population density and improve living standards... As the 15th most populous country in the world, I think the easiest way is for people to try not to rush, but to stay calm, slow down, manage their time wisely, and avoid going out. That way, we can reduce risks and pressure on the road."

Suggesting solutions to improve traffic culture on Vietnamese roads, reader Usahanoi stated: "Having a lot of experience abroad, I think there are many problems to be solved, but if we focus on solving the main ones, traffic will be greatly improved. It will be more orderly and safer.

First, education and guidance for safe and civilized traffic commuting should be included in school curriculums. The required skills need to be assessed carefully when training for a driver’s license for both cars and motorbikes.

Second, the fining of motorcycles and cars, especially those that cause potential danger, traffic jams and traffic unrest, should be much stricter.

Third is to create smarter and more organized lane markings, light signals, and standard signs at intersections. Learn how other cities with a lot of mixtures between motorbikes and cars do it.

Fourth is to increase the number of parking spots, build offices and stores in suitable locations without disrupting the traffic. Impose penalties for all acts of encroaching on roads and the roadside.

Fifth is to improve the capacity of public transport, especially the metro to reduce the density of personal vehicles. Overloaded infrastructure produces bad behavior and ways of thinking, including taking up space on the road and wasting other people's time (thinking that one's own time is more valuable than others).

I think that the first four points don't take too much time and money and can be applied right away. As for the fifth point, it would take longer and require quite large investments, so it should be applied after completing the first four tasks. If we can achieve that, I believe the traffic situation in our country will be improved."

The opinions expressed here are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress's viewpoints. Send your opinions here.
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