|A youngster jumps over a barrier on Hung Vuong Boulevard in northern Phu Tho Province. Pedestrians' recklessness is blamed for causing traffic accidents.— VNA/VNS Photo Nhat Anh
by Gia Loc
HCM CITY (VNS)— A 37-year-old man was hit and killed by a truck while climbing a concrete median strip to cross Highway 1A in HCM City's Binh Tan District last Thursday night.
The victim, Nguyen Van Lam of southern Kien Giang Province, climbed over the median because the zebra crossing was a bit far from the place he and his friend had been drinking.
Unfortunately, he was hit by the truck which was leaving the An Suong-An Lac toll house.
Lam's is not an isolated case of negligence by pedestrians, leading to deadly consequences.
Many serious accidents have been reported in recent years due to such negligence, Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of the HCM City Traffic Safety Committee, said.
Of 873 road accidents in the city last year in which 742 people were killed, pedestrians' fault accounted for 10 per cent.
Of the fatalities, 63 were of pedestrians who violated traffic regulations to jaywalk, cross outside of zebra crossings, or ignored signals.
According to the committee, more than 9,000 fatalities and injuries occur each year in traffic accidents, with pedestrians accounting for nearly 32 per cent of them.
Nguyen Hoang Hiep, deputy head of the National Traffic Safety Committee, told the media that while Ha Noi and HCM City have invested in building pedestrian bridges and underground tunnels to ensure pedestrians' safety, few bother to use them.
In HCM City, for instance, there is a pedestrian bridge in front of Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital in District 1, Oncology Hospital in Binh Thanh District, and Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital in District 5, but few patients or their relatives use them.
In some industrial parks like Linh Trung in Thu Duc District and Tan Tao in Binh Tan District, there are underground tunnels to enable workers to cross the road safely, and, like the pedestrian bridges, they are seldom used, with most workers preferring to jaywalk.
Though there are decrees on fining pedestrians violating traffic laws VND60,000-120,000, they are almost never enforced, he said.
The police said it is difficult to enforce the laws because of several reasons.
Many violators, for instance, claim not to have money or papers when caught, they said, while officers are not allowed to take in violators.
Thus, there is nothing to deter people from flouting road rules.
Nguyen Thi Thu Linh, 23, of HCM City, admitted to being one such person, saying she has never seen a pedestrian being fined and is not herself averse to not using zebra crossings.
In fact, in HCM City only one pedestrian has been charged with causing an accident traffic since 2010.
But Hiep admitted that in many places there are no pavements for pedestrians to use or are taken over by shops.
The committee is working with local authorities to prevent encroachments on pavements.
Road safety campaign
Nguyen Thi Tuyet Thi, an eighth grader at Le Quy Don Secondary School in HCM City, said she has not been taught how to safely walk on roads or about the fines for pedestrians.
Hiep said it is important to educate people and improve their awareness of walking safely to reduce violations of road-safety laws and accidents.
The National Traffic Safety Committee launched the "Safe Walking" campaign in the country's 63 provinces and cities to mark the United Nations Global Road Safety Week from May 6 to 12.
The HCM City Traffic Safety Committee together with FedEx Express and non-profit Safe Kids Viet Nam kicked off the campaign in the city last Saturday.
It sought to educate and improve pedestrian safety awareness among city students and the community at large.
It featured walks to focus the community's attention on pedestrian safety and warn people about the dangers they face when walking on the road.
There was also a photography contest and exhibition about the challenging walking environment faced by the city's students. —VNS