Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Lưu Đức Hoàng, 17, a student from a high school in the northern port city of Hải Phòng, does not have a driving licence, but he drives a motorbike every day to school.
The teenager, who will turn 18 this September, used to be excited about the driving experience.
Except for a lesson on traffic laws each month, Hoàng said he had never read a document or attended a training course on traffic safety.
“Driving is easy. It is something that shows I am a man, not a boy,” the teenager used to say.
His parents, small traders at their local market, both own motorbikes, and neither complained nor warned their son about the risks of accidents while driving - particularly on the city’s crowded streets. They even allowed him to use a motorbike at the age of 16.
No one could blame the family until the boy got into a traffic accident on the way to school in June while driving his own motorbike and carrying two of his classmates.
Hoàng was driving the bike at a high speed when he struck a car travelling in the opposite direction.
The boy survived, but had to undergo a long surgery to amputate his right leg while the two others classmates were slightly injured.
Hoàng is just one of thousands of teenagers who drive motorbikes without licences every day in Việt Nam. The accident he and his friends experienced was a consequence of him violating traffic laws, coupled with the fact that traffic accidents among young people are on the rise.
An accident occurs in the Central Highlands Province’s Đà Lạt City. A survey conducted by the National Committee for Traffic Safety and the Việt Nam Association of Motorcycle Manufacturing recently revealed the number of traffic accidents relating to teenagers was rapidly increasing with most cases involving those under the age of 18. VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Dũng
A survey conducted by the National Committee for Traffic Safety (NCTS) and the Việt Nam Association of Motorcycle Manufacturing revealed last month that the number of traffic accidents involving teenagers was rapidly increasing with most cases involving those under the age of 18.
The survey sounded an alarm that if families, authorities and society do not take urgent measures, the issue could become an uncontrollable situation.
HCM City was a hot spot with a 190 per cent rise in accidents involving teenagers between 2013 and 2015, and a 217 per cent increase in teenage casualties during the same period, the survey said, adding that victims, mostly high school students, made up 70 per cent of the total motorbike accidents.
Head of Office of the NCTS, Nguyễn Trọng Thái, told Nông Thôn Ngày nay (Countryside today) newspaper that the main contributing factor was low awareness of traffic laws among both teenagers and their guardians, usually their parents.
Lax punishment for teenage traffic law violators was also hindering activities to control accidents, according to Thái.
The official added that authorities, including traffic police, sometimes give teenage violators a warning or remind them of traffic safety rules, but do not give them a fine.
Vũ Văn Hoài, a major from Hà Nội Police, told Việt Nam News yesterday that out of the 1,240 teenagers who have been reprimanded for violating traffic laws in the city since the beginning of the year, a majority had no driving licence and carried more than two people or drove three or four motorbikes in a row, taking up unnecessary space on the roadway. Additionally, few young drivers wear helmets.
Hoài, who is also the leader of a Hà Nội police team for traffic safety dissemination, said parents play the most important role in preventing traffic accidents.
The police officer urged parents to stop their children from using motorbikes without a licence, adding that it was crucial to prevent their children from causing accidents.
The parents should work with teachers at schools, local education officials and policemen to provide children with lessons on traffic laws and safety, Hoài said.
He said his team was implementing a project to improve awareness of traffic safety among both parents and their children with support from schools and education authorities in the city.
The project, which started in 2013 and ends in 2018, includes a recording of all teenage traffic violators’ information, such as names, addresses and details about the violation, Hoài said.
The record would be sent to violators’ schools with an aim of encouraging their schools and families to issue their own punishments, the police officer added.
Moreover, Hoài said, Hà Nội Police are urging families to monitor their children’s driving by convincing parents to sign a commitment form ensuring that their children drive safely, attend training courses, follow traffic laws and avoid driving without a licence.
Thái, the official from NCTS, said the committee is currently co-operating with motor manufacturers to provide training courses on safe driving skills to motorbike drivers, especially young people.
The committee is also working with the Ministry of Education and Training to conduct practice training on safe driving and traffic laws for students at schools, according to Thái.
The official said a new school year had started and this was a good chance for schools and families to co-operate with the committee in fulfilling their commitment to protect students from traffic accidents. —VNS