Vietnam becoming safer but road safety still a major concern

By Nguyen Quy   June 12, 2019 | 07:53 pm PT
Vietnam becoming safer but road safety still a major concern
Pedestrians share the sidewalk with motorbikes in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Vietnam has climbed up a global safety index, but road safety and drowning remain major threats, says Underwriters Laboratories, a U.S. safety science company.

The country has risen by six places to 70th in Underwriters Laboratories' 2019 UL Safety Index. The ranking measured the safety environment in 187 countries and territories based on 17 indicators grouped in three criteria: resources and institutions, safety frameworks and safety outcomes.   

Vietnam got a score of 66 out of 100, indicating it has developing socioeconomic conditions and preventative safety measures, the report said.

"But the country has not done a good job in dealing with road safety and drowning issues."

Road accidents remain the biggest single cause of deaths in the country even as it works hard to make roads safer. Traffic congestion, inadequate enforcement of the law, poor driving skills, and bad street conditions are the main reasons for road crashes.

A recent survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that every year around 9,000 people die on Vietnam’s roads, or one every hour, costing the country approximately 2.5 percent of its GDP.

Child drowning deaths are not uncommon in Vietnam, which besides a long coastline of nearly 3,300 km also has innumerable rivers, canals and ponds. More than 11,000 children drown each year, according to the WHO.

The rate of child drowning in Vietnam is higher than in other Southeast Asian nations and 10 times higher than in developed countries, the survey found.

Vietnamese schools do not teach students how to swim mainly due to a lack of facilities. The government has tried to introduce swimming classes in schools nationwide but the program has only become popular in urban areas.

Underwriters Laboratories reported that Vietnam was fifth among the 10 Southeast Asian nations in terms of overall safety, with Singapore topping the list.

Norway was the safest country in the world followed by the Netherlands and Sweden while poor countries mired in conflict like Syria, Somalia, Iraq, and South Sudan propped up the index.

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