Regulations must be strictly adhered to in expressway traffic

February 26, 2024 - 09:06
Tin Tức newspaper talked to Trần Hữu Minh, Head of the National Traffic Safety Commission on the importance of following traffic laws on expressways.
Trần Hữu Minh, Head of the National Traffic Safety Commission. — Photo courtesy of the National Traffic Safety Commission.

In less than a month, two serious traffic accidents occurred on two new expressways, La Sơn - Túy Loan and Cam Lộ - La Sơn leaving six people dead and many injured. VNA's Tin Tức newspaper talked to Trần Hữu Minh, Head of the National Traffic Safety Commission on the importance of following traffic laws on expressways.

The recent accidents on the Cam Lộ - La Sơn and La Sơn - Túy Loan expressways had particularly severe consequences. There have been many opinions in the media and on social networks analyzing the causes of the accidents, including issues related to traffic infrastructure. What are the main reasons for these accidents?

When traffic accidents occur, authorities will examine the direct causes and hold responsible individuals and organisations accountable. However, only authorities can make the final conclusions on what caused the accidents.

In the recent traffic accidents, we can see that the first, direct, and most significant cause is the behaviour of the vehicle controller. Authorities are continuing to analyse other related factors.

I also want to emphasise that the process of investigating the causes of accidents cannot be rushed because all activities must be carried out according to strict, meticulous, proportionate and objective regulations based on evidence. Even in many advanced countries, it can take several months, although accidents with the support of dash cameras may expedite the process. Public opinion should be understanding, as conclusions about the causes will not be immediately available right after the collision.

In particularly severe traffic accidents, the Prime Minister has provided clear directives. In addition to clarifying the direct causes, it is necessary to elucidate other related causes to prevent similar traffic accidents in the future. This process requires investigative agencies and experts to review all factors in the traffic system, including regulations, rules, standards, vehicles, drivers, infrastructure, traffic organisation, education, propaganda and penalties.

The Prime Minister assigned the Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee to preside over a meeting with relevant agencies, reviewing and assessing the responsibilities of indirectly related agencies. These are new points that, if implemented well, will contribute significantly to proactively preventing traffic accidents.

In accordance with the Prime Minister's directives, on February 21, the Thừa Thiên - Huế Provincial People's Committee organised a meeting to evaluate the causes, draw lessons, and implement solutions to remedy the consequences of the accident. Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee Hoàng Hải Minh suggested that management and operation agencies of the Cam Lộ - La Sơn expressway coordinate to inspect and appraise the traffic safety system and infrastructure of the accident section.

Immediate and long-term solutions need to be implemented to thoroughly address existing deficiencies in the infrastructure to ensure safety for people and vehicles when travelling. Traffic police forces in localities need to strengthen patrols, control key traffic intersections leading to the expressway, and strictly handle violations such as speeding, lane invasion, and improper overtaking.

For Việt Nam, expressways are still a relatively new form of transportation, and many people are not familiar with the regulations and principles when travelling. What advice do you have for motorists?

There are many things that road users can do immediately to enhance traffic safety for themselves and the community.

Although expressway traffic has the highest safety coefficient among road types, due to the high speed, road users must pay absolute attention to strictly adhere to regulations. Negligence or recklessness for just a few seconds can lead to catastrophic traffic accidents, especially on this relatively new form of transportation in Việt Nam.

Road users need to be aware that participating in expressway traffic is an activity that must be carefully prepared in all aspects, such as ensuring knowledge and driving skills, the health and focused alertness of the driver, good vehicle conditions, gathering information, and having a plan for stops and exits from the expressway. Those who are new to driving, new vehicles, or new routes should be extremely cautious.

Road users must always actively practise and adhere to traffic rules because all traffic rules are established for a reason and aim to ensure the safety of drivers and society. Violating traffic rules increases the risk of accidents. This especially includes rules about maintaining distance, obeying speed limits, rules when overtaking, changing lanes, turning, wearing seat belts, not using phones and using appropriate safety equipment for children.

I believe that for those who are new to driving or have never driven on an expressway, it is advisable to have an experienced driver supplement their expressway driving skills before driving on an expressway independently. This is also recommended in many developed countries. Many countries even have insurance policies for drivers who complete advanced driving courses with experienced instructors on expressways, at night, in rainy weather, on hilly roads, etc.

High speed is a factor that can destroy everything, even the most modern and safest vehicles. Therefore, drivers need to proactively reduce speed and maintain it at a reasonable level, even when it is possible to go faster. The speed limit does not mean encouraging drivers to reach the maximum speed. For example, a speed limit of 100kph does not mean that drivers must try to reach 100kph; instead, they should drive at a lower speed. In fact, traffic safety experts often recommend driving below the speed limit (depending on specific conditions), of course, not below the minimum speed on the expressway. This is a good practice for drivers in Việt Nam.

Finally, always wear seat belts whenever you get into a vehicle and make it a habit for everyone around you. Bad habits, seemingly harmless in urban traffic jams or rural roads, may become one of the factors causing serious consequences in the event of a collision.

Seat belts can reduce up to 45 per cent of severe injuries and up to 75 per cent of the risk of death. Seat belt usage rate in Việt Nam is still relatively low (below 20 per cent), especially for rear-seat passengers. Therefore, it is recommended for all road users, regardless of their seat position, to fasten their seat belts every time they get into a car. The driver must ensure that all occupants in the vehicle wear suitable seat belts before starting the journey. VNS