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Drunk driving in the spotlight

Update: April, 25/2012 - 10:23

HA NOI — Stricter punishments for drink-driving, including detention, were proposed at a question-and-answer session yesterday between National Assembly's Law Committee and senior Government officials, which was broadcast live on national television channel VTV1.

The questions focused on traffic violations, ways to make fines more effective, and the use of fine revenue.

A proposal to detain drunk drivers was supported by participants, including Nguyen Van Tien, deputy head of the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs, and Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang.

While emphasising that drink-driving accounted for 30 per cent of fatal traffic accidents, Tien said Viet Nam should learn from the examples of China and South Korea, where drunk drivers could be sentenced up to six months in prison.

Thang agreed, adding that traffic inspectors should be authorised to temporarily detain drink-drivers.

Many participants also expressed concerns over the prevalence of truck overloading and the use of substandard transport vehicles.

Truck overloading, which was reported to make up 9.7 per cent of road traffic violations, was cited by many as a major reason for road deterioration and traffic accidents.

In response, Thang said his ministry would step up measures to control the situation.

One of the measures cited was the installation of weight stations, already being piloted in northern Quang Ninh Province and southeastern Dong Nai Province.

The measure would be included in a plan to control overloaded vehicles, which was being drafted by the ministry, and would be submitted to the Government for amendments to Decree 34 for fines against violations in road traffic.

The plan was estimated to cost about VND2.4 trillion (US$114 million).

Thang also supported the confiscation of vehicles - another solution to control truck overloading proposed by Duong Trung Quoc, a deputy from Central Highlands Lam Dong Province.

Another issue of concern is the application of higher fines towards traffic violators in Ha Noi and HCM City, where fines are at least 40 per cent higher than other places.

Thang, in response, affirmed that the measures proved to bring positive results, which representatives from the People's Committees of Ha Noi and HCM City agreed to, as they said this helped reduce the number of people who ran through red lights, failed to wear helmets, and illegally raced on the streets.

Thang said the application of higher fines would be extended to other cities and provinces.

The use of fines collected from traffic violations was also among the issues most discussed, as some expressed doubts over the effectiveness in managing the fine revenue.

According to Nguyen Thi Minh, deputy minister of finance, the fines collected from road traffic violations last year were over VND2.54 trillion (nearly $121 million).

Quoc said the large amount of money collected from automobile violations should be used more wisely.

Most preferably, he said the fund should be used to upgrade traffic infrastructures to reduce accidents.

Minh said the fine revenue would be used to upgrade traffic infrastructures, purchase more equipment and tools for traffic inspections and raise allowances for traffic police. — VNS

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