Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers about their opinion on the story of a man who got beaten up for stopping at a red light. This was an extreme example of a nationwide issue – people run red lights often, even honking at other drivers to make way for them.
Here are some of your comments.
Marty Phillip Hoare, Australian, Ha Noi
This is just another case of rude, ignorant, selfish road users. The same thing happened to me and my daughter very recently, but it ended quite differently as the driver trying to force me through a red light received a painful reminder not to bully other road users, and this was in full view of the traffic police, who did absolutely nothing. Road users in Viet Nam are some of the worst I have seen anywhere in the world. I may be completely wrong but I put this down to the "me me me" society Viet Nam has rapidly become. These behaviours are also witnessed when queuing, waiting for an elevator, parking, pushing and shoving as opposed to waiting patiently, screaming across a crowded room, mobile phone use, lack of basic manners, and the long, long, long list of negative behaviours goes on. So how do you combat such anti-social behaviour? Education in areas of social graces is the only answer and must be dealt with in the classroom at a very young age and carried forward in the home. But it will be a long, long road before any positive change will be seen.
Wolfgang Rain, American
Living in Viet Nam, a country I love with all my heart, creates two great sadnesses for me:
1. How so many Vietnamese people treat animals and nature as something they only want to poison and destroy and pollute;
And 2. how many young people's funerals I have been to and how many orphaned children I have met, because so many Vietnamese people do not look left or right before entering a busy intersection, so many text messages on their phones while driving lorries and motorbikes with children on board, and so many refuse to wait for a green lights when traffic is coming. This is so sad, so dangerous, and results in so many avoidable deaths and paralyses... why are so many Vietnamese in such a hurry to die?
John Sylvan, Australian, Ha Noi
The solution to this problem is better policing. There are no consequences for bad driving. Even foreigners break rules they would never think of breaking back home. There is only one reason for it: you WON'T get caught!
If traffic police enforced traffic regulations according to the law, consistently, traffic behaviour would improve.
Luke Farnbach, Australian, Ha Noi
The problem stems from technology being given to people who were in no way prepared for it, and this is the consequence. We have grown up with it all for generations, slowly changing and adapting with the new technology as it was introduced into our lives, whereas here people have just gotten it without being prepared. It would be like giving a car to a child and expecting nothing bad to happen. There is a reason for age limits, testing, etc.
For me one of the most stupid things I see is people waiting at a red light. They will wait for a dozen seconds, and then about 10 seconds before it finishes, they suddenly decided they can't wait anymore. Or when the light turns green, but the turning arrow is red, and everybody goes anyway...
Dan Davy, Canadian, Ha Noi
I see police at intersections all the time and they allow this behaviour. Stiff fines need to be levied and vehicles and licences taken away. In Canada this is a non-issue. When the police are serious about this then the drivers will take it more seriously. This is one of many traffic issues. Honking should only be used in emergencies. Fines are levied in other countries, as this is considered noise pollution. I, like many expats, have a long list of observations and remedies that are used successfully in other countries. Current fines are weak and need to be enforced/collected, which is another issue. I avoid driving in Ha Noi as it is aggressive and dangerous.
Lawry Bee Tin Yeo, Singaporean, Singapore
I am a foreigner from Singapore. What I'd like to say is that Vietnamese must learn the art of patience. Not only on roads you could see arguments for the right of way, but even in normal daily lives by the roadside. Someone only has to say "sorry" first and the situation will be easily resolved. When I say this to my local friends the same excuse is given to me of the way of life experienced in the past and the culture that has been passed down. But I have seen and met many polite Vietnamese, too, in the cities.
It is common site to see motorists rush across red lights and even zebra crossings. These are the critical locations that traffic police should be hanging around to nap these offenders. They have to be taught the meaning of red lights and zebra crossings before more serious accidents happen.
Nguyen Cao Phuong Tram, Vietnamese, HCM City
I am a student studying and living in HCM City, a place where situations like these happen every day. People can't wait until the light turns green and they just cross that front-line even when there are just a few seconds left. This is easy to understand, maybe they have some emergency, or maybe it's just their habit. Or one of the factors can be the honking, as was mentioned in the article. I have never been in this situation like the man in the article, and I feel really sorry for him. And yes, I hate it when people drive through red lights. Also, the sound of the honking may cause stress and headaches, which probably annoys everyone. I think the other countries don't do anything. Honking is part of driving, you can't just abandon it.
Tom Affolter, American, Seattle, Washington
It is not the honking that bothers me, although that is bad. It is the fact that five guys could get out of a car and just beat on a guy on a motorbike who did nothing wrong. Let me guess, everybody just sat around and watched? I respect Vietnamese people, but accepting this kind of violence and then "rubber necking" (watching it) is simply something I cannot understand, as a foreigner.
Terry Hoang, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
This is alarming. I always ignored the honking when I slowed down at a yellow light. I do get sworn at all the time but I just pretend to be deaf. Luckily I've never gotten beaten up. Maybe it is because I'm a woman. But seriously, I would have no idea what to do in this case to protect myself! — VNS