Heavier fines won't deter traffic violations

Update: June, 27/2015 - 09:22
A container truck stopped by traffic police in northern Hai Phong Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Doan Tan
HA NOI  (VNS) — Higher penalties are unlikely to reduce traffic violations if root causes are not identified and addressed, Deputy Transport Minister Le Dinh Tho said.

Addressing a review conference on Decree 171 on Tuesday, which stipulates administrative fines for traffic offences, he said lawmakers should identify the actual causes behind specific violations if they are to initiate effective changes to the decree.

For instance, drivers are often directed by their bosses to abandon commercial vehicles when they are stopped by traffic police. This makes the task of impounding the vehicles, registering cases and collecting fines very complicated, especially given the limited infrastructure and resources that the traffic police have at their disposal, he noted. In such cases, mechanisms have to be found to target the owners effectively, he added.

The Deputy Minister was responding to lawmakers and officials who wanted severity of penalties and introduce amendments to make Decree 171 more effective. Both lawmakers and officials at the conference agreed that two years of the decree's implementation had revealed numerous shortcomings and limitations.

"There are quite a number of penalties that go beyond a provincial police chiefs' jurisdiction. This has led to lengthy and complicated processes for levying administrative fines," said Hoang The Tung, deputy head of the Department of Traffic Safety under the Transport Ministry.

There were many cases where traffic offenders do not show up and co-operate with the police, Tung said. The number of unsolved cases and impounded vehicles has increased social costs and become a heavy burden for law enforcement forces.

A representative from the northern province of Ha Nam said it typically took a long time for police to transfer a case to provincial traffic departments for imposing bigger fines.

He suggested that driving licences are suspended after, and not before the fines are paid. Currently, drivers were waiting until the licence suspension period was almost over to pay their fines. In practice, this meant that their licences were only suspended for a few days.

Another major topic dealt with at the conference was dealing with overloaded buses.

Col. Nguyen Huu Danh, deputy chief of the Traffic Police Department, said current measures, including holding bus stations' operators accountable and dispatching inspection teams to monitor them have failed to stop the practice.

He proposed that lawmakers consider imposing fines on passengers who catch buses outside designated bus stops as they were also in violation of traffic safety rules.

Nguyen Van Thao, deputy head of the Lao Cai Department of Transport stressed that catching buses along national highways is a dangerous practice that must be stopped immediately.

He cited the example of a recent accident on the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Highway that killed two women as they were trying to cross the highway to catch a bus.

Tran Quang Thanh, deputy head of Road Management Unit 2 under the Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam, proposed that the fine for overloaded vehicles be increased to a maximum of VND14 million (US$650) and VND28 million ($1300) from the current VND4 million ($180) and VND8 million ($370) for privately-owned and business-owned vehicles respectively. — VNS