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Cameras won't do enough to stop traffic congestion

Update: August, 29/2014 - 10:38
Photo chieusang

Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers their opinions on whether installing traffic cameras in many downtown streets in Ha Noi and other major cities in the country will partly solve traffic congestion, chaos in Viet Nam.

Here are some responses

Jonathan Pereira, Australian, Ha Noi

In Australia, we have speed cameras and red light cameras to solve two specific problems: speeding and going through red lights. These measures, however, compliment attempts to address some underlying contributors of bad behavior, such as poor quality roads, a lack of speed signs and a scarce police presence in certain areas where people may be tempted to break the law.

My issue with placing more surveillance cameras on Ha Noi's streets is that there should be an attempt to address some of the underlying causes that make people drive in the wrong lanes (and generally in a chaotic fashion).

By this I mean there needs to be more efforts to improve the state of Viet Nam's terrible roads, often comprising only two lanes, no speed signs and many grizzly potholes.

My other concern with this measure is with enforcement. Firstly, by only going after cars, it's likely that you're only going to catch a minority of those infringing the law - given that most people drive motorcycles. Those driving cars are probably wealthy and influential enough to avoid having to pay such fines. Therefore, how big an impact can we expect this to have?

Maybe the administrative bodies responsible for motorcycle registration should clean up the system so that everyone can be targeted for terrible driving - including motorcycle drivers. Maybe the roads should be improved to help people to drive more sensibly. Maybe less ambiguous traffic signs need to be made and placed around the capital.

However, that's not to say that doing those things will stop the problem altogether, either. There are plenty of speeders and red-light offenders in Australia and these cameras have been a massive revenue-raiser for the state.

Given that funding might be an issue in addressing the underlying causes of poor traffic behavior, maybe bringing in these cameras might be an effective way to raise money to improve Viet Nam's roads and traffic infrastructure?

Robert Fries, American, Texas, USA

Use of traffic cameras is common in the US at traffic intersections. If you run a red light, you will receive a fine in the mail. Cameras are also used on busy highways more so to monitor traffic. The data is used to reroute a driver with a GPS.

Once I was reluctant to trust my smart-phone with GPS when it took me off a major highway onto a local loop. Glad I trusted it as I went about 5 miles and could see traffic at a standstill on the major highway. It saved me gas and time.

In the major city where I live, there are many traffic police who catch speeders, drunk drivers and reckless drivers. I suppose a video camera could document these cars but who knows who is driving? And, more importantly, these drivers must be dealt with immediately before they cause an accident.

Despite all these efforts, congestion remains a major problem. Not enough road space and too many vehicles. Heck, we could pave the entire city with highways and it would not be enough to keep up with increasing numbers.

Part of the problem is the "one car, one driver" problem. Some US highways have special lanes for cars with 3 or more passengers to encourage car pooling.

J.Deston, British, HCM City

When I read this article, the line that stuck out was "and to raise massive amounts of cash for the state". Let's be honest, this is the only reason this proposal would go through, as any kind of help to the traffic problems would be zero.

In a fair and equal society, one cannot punish one sector and let the other go completely free, "Because it is easier to track down a car owner than a motorbike owner"!

Meaning, absolutely nothing would change the traffic conditions and only provide more revenue stream for the state, and increasing the frustration of drivers at the unfairness of it.

Why isn't the state investing in education so that the next crop of young drivers are able to understand the need to respect the road rules and one another and overcome the onerous suggestions of nothing but punishments. Prevention is better than cure.

Lance Zimmerman, German, regular visitor to Viet Nam.

I am a long-time regular visitor of Viet Nam, mainly Ha Noi and I love the country and the Vietnamese people. The traffic has become more and more chaotic.

I heard many tourists complaining regarding the violations of the traffic rules which make it extremely challenging to walk the streets of Ha Noi.

Motorbikes are increasingly using the sidewalks to avoid traffic-lights or just to go to a shop. Will cameras solve the street gridlock in Viet Nam? The answer is no.

A camera system can be used to control a regular traffic system where irregular behavior stands out. Say, the odd person who violates the traffic lights or uses the wrong side of the road will be caught on camera and can be traced and sanctioned.

But in the chaotic Vietnamese traffic the camera has no effect and will not be of any help. A camera system does not regulate the traffic.

It will create an extensive and expensive admin system. Therefore, 2014 is far too early for a camera system.

The suggested answer is four-fold: Education, law enforcement, parking buildings for both cars and motorbikes and functioning traffic lights.

Education is the most important as the general opinion and perception has to be changed. The traffic burden is growing everyday as more cars and motorbikes join the streets. The public has to be convinced by education, to learn that it has to obey traffic rules in order to keep the city livable for future generations.

Whilst the public is being educated, the rules will have to be enforced.

Forty-years ago, we saw a similar situation in cities like Singapore and Hong Kong. Through education, law enforcement, parking facilities and timed traffic lights, the chaos has been resolved and the places are livable for generations to come.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

I said when Ha Noi cracks down on me going through red lights/the wrong way-I would leave. Canadians resent the cash cow milking of drivers from traffic camera revenue. I was on a bicycle so I fell under the radar.

Canuck cops wait like vultures at the bottom of hills or around curves to pick off drivers. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. Oh, 5 kilometres over the limit? Gotta pay for that shiny new cop car and fancy radar machine, eh? And we pay your salary!

Ha Noi is crowded. Motorbikes park on sidewalks. Cars take up too much space. Buses spew black toxic clouds. Bicycle riders, old people & scrap collectors routinely get in my way.

If you ask me-and you did, I say safety first. Slow down the honking aggressive delivery trucks. Then chase down taxis. You know why! Then the family of five, where dad doesn't wear a helmet, standing kid covers turn signal forever blinking, mum with her cheap helmet that has a hole for her pony tail holding one baby to the side while another is standing up. — VNS

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