Shaming traffic violators helps lower death toll
by Hang Nguyen
When I heard about the new rule to name and shame traffic violators in the local media, I wanted to applaud.
But I asked myself if the move was feasible.
When I was a little girl, I remember how proud I was when my name was announced on the communal street loudspeaker for achieving a good result at school. However, I wonder if traffic transgressors would care if they hear their names on local radio or see them published in local newspapers.
The attempt to rein in the madness on our roads is part of State policies to lower road deaths and injuries in 2012, the National Year for Traffic Safety. Statistics from the National Committee for Traffic Safety show there have been more than 7.2 million traffic violators since 2011.
The violations include driving in the wrong lane, driving without a helmet, carrying more than the permitted number of passengers - and failing to obey traffic lights and road signs. All of these infringements can lead to sudden death and injury.
When Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently heard that the scheme was not succeeding, he put his own weight behind the idea. He ordered all municipalities and agencies to continue their effort.
In response, Van Huu Chien, chairman of the Da Nang People's Committee last week ordered city police to team up with Da Nang newspapers, radio and television station to name violators.
Vo Thi Dieu, deputy head of Vinh Cuu District's Radio Station in southern Dong Nai Province, said she hoped that exposing the names of violators brought them shame and helped reduce traffic violations.
But there are doubters. Doan Hoang Giang, a third-year student at a Ha Noi university, who paid VND200,000 (US$9) for driving in the wrong lane last weekend, told me: "I don't care about the policy, I think it's no use. Nobody cares who I am and why I broke the rules. So, if my name is published in the mass media, I think I feel nothing."
He suggested the only chance of the policy working would be if it named only old and middle aged drivers because they had a greater sense of honour and shame.
Phan Hong Nhung, 26, a bank worker in Dong Da District, said that Government workers, especially those who held important positions, were more than likely to care about the publicity.
Luu Ngoc Vu, 46, the owner of a shoe kiosk at Hom Market, said he did not think the thousands of violators could care very much if they were named. "Everyone has their own work to do. Students are busy with their studies, adults are busy with their work, no one has spare time to follow the columns of transgressors mentioned on local loudspeakers, newspapers or radio," he said.
More than half of the 20 others I spoke to also said they would not feel ashamed if their names were made public, which makes me question the feasibility of the policy.
When the scheme started two years ago, Chief Secretariat of the National Traffic Safety Committee Than Van Thanh said that the Public Security Ministry issued a circular to order police offices in all localities to also provide a list of violators to their workplaces, schools or homes. However, it proved ineffective because it also requested employers and teachers to make offenders show remorse for their offences, but this rarely happened.
But now that the Prime Minister has ordered efforts be made to continue making efforts to implement the policy, Thanh said the policy would have a better chance of working.
For young people, who violate traffic rules more than older drivers, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Ministry of Education and Training have taken on the responsibility of educating them about road rules.
Personally, I think that naming and shaming traffic violators will make them feel that they have really done something wrong - something that could have - or may have - led to the death or injury of other people. — VNS