Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers about the Ministry of Transport's decision to increase the speed limit in urban areas. Here are some of the comments.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Surely this is a pre-Tet joke? On extremely rare occasions during an electricity blackout in Canada, everyone slows down and is extra careful at 4-way cross streets. Going faster in Ha Noi is a recipe for disaster.
Countdown timer lights are great, but the attempt at physical line dividers failed and they were removed. What we need is 100 per cent compliance of mirrors and helmets with an immediate fine – no bribes, get a receipt and register the driver's name. Initiate one-way streets temporarily during rush hour traffic and especially in school zones.
My pet peeve is dozens and dozens of bikes spilling into the street each day waiting for kids to leave school. Why not line up by grades, and turn and face the street? How can kids learn from chaos?
Back home everyone must have insurance. You are taught and reminded to ‘drive defensively. Keep a safe distance. If you rear-end someone, it is your fault.
New teen drivers can't drive at night and have other restrictions such as having a licensed driver in the car with them. Why not initiate a programme here where if you get into an accident you must retrain and take another driving test?
Funeral processions should only travel at certain times. Everyone must pull over for the ambulance. The last thing I would want to be is a traffic police officer! Hell is Ha Noi traffic and Ha Noi is traffic Hell.
Hoang Hoa Sen, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
In my opinion, the increase is a very bad idea. The new speed limit won't help reduce traffic jams and will probably lead to many more accidents.
Actually, inhabitants of Ha Noi and other big cities in Viet Nam suffer through these traffic jams every day. Even though the current speed limit is 40 kph for a motorbike in the city, I can almost never ride my motorbike at this speed.
To get to the office from home, I have to drive 12 kilometres. It takes me 40 minutes when there is not a traffic jam, and an hour or even more when there is bad traffic.
Even when there are no traffic jams, I cannot drive very quickly, as there are a lot of people in the street with all kinds of means of transport and all kinds of cumbersome goods being carried behind them.
Many times, when I ride more quickly than usual (in the evening or at noon, when there is less traffic on the street), I thought I was going to die when someone crossed the street too quickly, without watching for any cars or motorbikes, and in the wrong lane! I was scared that I wouldn't be able to slow down or stop in time. It's rare to see Vietnamese people cross the street at the zebra crossings as required by law!
If people are now encouraged to drive at higher speeds, I am convinced that more road accidents will occur, if people do not respect the traffic rules, and if the streets in Ha Noi will become more and more crowded.
Driving in Ha Noi every day makes me very tired, as I have to be on high alert while on the street. Every day when I go out of my house I am scared, and each evening when I arrive home safely I am relieved that I am still alive!
Nguyen Bich Hang, Vietnamese, HCM City
I don't think the speed increase will help reduce traffic jams. Actually, I think traffic jams usually occur on crowded streets where few vehicles can actually drive at the speed limit. Traffic jams are mostly caused by narrow, poor quality roads and drivers' lack of discipline. Many drivers know the traffic rules but still break them to save time.
I think increasing the speed limit is much more practical and reasonable for vehicles on highways, as many drivers are complaining that it's wasteful to drive at 50 km per hour on highways.
I also welcome Circular 91, which stipulates that speed limits will vary based on the type of road rather than the type of vehicle, like it currently says.
I hope that the Government, Ministry of Transport and relevant agencies will work to rate the roads and impose reasonable speed limits. Moreover, they should control the quality of the roads, especially those built under Build-Operate-Transfer contracts, where private investors can impose road fees that are usually quite expensive. Road quality and toll fees must accompany each other.
Cherry Thein, tourist, Ha Noi
A faster speed limit will be really terrifying for foreigners like me. Traffic is the most impressive thing in Viet Nam, because whenever I cross the road I experience a sense of adventure. I always feel scared facing fast-moving vehicles. Every time I cross the street I must hold my friend's hand, because vehicles refuse to give way for me or slow down. Cars and motorcycles always run very fast and they rarely give way to pedestrians. And now with the faster speed limit, I'm not sure whether I can cross the road. Just take a big, deep breath and pray that no accidents will occur. But anyway, it really is a nightmare. — VNS