|The Dong Tru Bridge in Long Bien District, Ha Noi. Several provinces have succeeded in reducing the number of traffic accidents by more than 20 per cent in 2014, Deputy PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at an online conference yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hung.
HA NOI (VNS) — The number of traffic accident fatalities nationwide fell below 9,000 in 2014 for the first year in a long time, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc noted yesterday at an online conference with 62 provinces and cities.
"It was also significant that many provinces reduced the number of traffic accidents by more than 20 per cent compared with the previous year," he said, praising Ha Noi and HCM City for their efforts in reducing traffic accidents and traffic jams.
Yet many serious accidents still happened, pointed out Phuc, who is also the chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee. Fatalities increased in nine localities and traffic in rural areas was still dangerous, posing threats to people's safety every day.
There were 25,322 traffic accidents in 2014, killing 8,996 people and injuring more than 24,400 others, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee. The figures represent a year-on-year decrease of 13.8 per cent in the number of accidents, as well as a 4 per cent and 17.2 per cent decrease in fatalities and injuries respectively.
Railway accidents accounted for 165 cases, killing 139 and injuring 43, which were all lower than in the previous year. However, waterway accident fatalities rose to 59 even though there were nine fewer accidents than in 2013.
Of the 52 provinces and cities with reduced fatalities, 10 had significant reductions: Quang Ninh, Ha Giang, Bac Kan, Ninh Thuan, Cao Bang, Nam Dinh, Ca Mau, Bac Giang, Da Nang and Lang Son. In contrast, Quang Tri, Kon Tum, Vinh Long, Kien Giang and Ben Tre had the most deaths.
"The most significant issue of 2014 was that the aviation security threat was increased," Phuc said.
While there were no aviation accidents, there were 401 potential threats to aviation security including 91 aviation problems, a 177 per cent increase over 2013. Notable cases included a Vietnamese carrier taking passengers to the wrong destination in June, the issuing of a takeoff command from an apprentice at Da Nang International Airport that nearly caused a collision between two aircraft in July and the 75-minute air traffic control blackout which affected dozens of flights at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in November.
Deputy PM Phuc said that in 2015, all provinces and cities must tighten transport regulations and make people's safety a priority.
"The country has set the target of reducing the numbers of deaths and injuries caused by traffic accidents by 5-10 per cent in 2015. But it must be the target of all provinces and cities. All localities must reduce the death number by 5-10 per cent themselves," he said.
Phuc urged Ha Noi and HCM City to continue reducing traffic congestion, especially congestion lasting over 30 minutes.
Deputy Chairman of Quang Ninh Province People's Committee Le Quang Tung said his province reduced traffic accidents by building community-based programmes to raise awareness about traffic regulations.
"The local police and culture sectors worked together to perform stories about traffic safety on stage," he said. "Meanwhile, the model of civilised residential areas, which also promote obedience of traffic regulations, has expanded. In 2013, there were only 30 residential areas but now there are 500."
Tung added that the province had tightened alcohol checks on drivers and overloaded trucks were becoming less of a problem, although inspections to see if trucks had been illegally modified to carry heavier loads were still progressing.
In the central province of Quang Tri, poor awareness and the expansion of National Highway 1 accounted for the increased number of fatalities and injuries, said chairman of the provincial People's Committee Nguyen Duc Chinh.
Most accidents happened high in mountainous areas where the locals drank a lot, according to Chinh.
"We have increased dissemination of information and inspection at hot spots of drink driving but the number of accidents was still high, killing many people," he said.
The local official urged the Ministry of Transport to speed up the construction of the National Highway 1 expansion so all material hindering traffic on the road could be cleared away. He also asked the ministry to support the province to set up another weigh station for trucks on National Highway 1, as there was currently only one station on Road 9. — VNS