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Traffic accidents plague southern highways

Update: June, 04/2018 - 09:00
Thousands of heavy vehicles travel on the expressways of HCM City–Trung Lương daily. The majority of drivers were only able to keep the distance between their vehicles at 30-50m, shorter than the minimum recommended distance of 70m, according to the Ministry of Transport. — VNA/VNS Photo Bùi Giang
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Connecting Việt Nam’s biggest city with its southern provinces, two major highways going through HCM City pose several risks of traffic accidents that spans from drivers’ attitude to cattle running and stubble burning.

Thousands of heavy vehicles travel on the expressways of HCM City – Trung Lương and HCM City – Long Thành – Dầu Giây per day. They are most crowded during peak hours, with vehicles driving up to 100km per hour.

The majority of drivers were only able to keep the distance between their vehicles at 30-50m, shorter than the minimum distance of 70m required by the Ministry of Transport, Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper reported.

When it rained, because they were driving at high speed, several vehicles splashed water onto those that ran behind them, blocking the drivers’ vision. Most of the drivers were unable to keep the minimum distance of 100m between their vehicles when driving in rain or mist, either.

Huỳnh Tấn Tài, a driver from HCM City’s District 8, said that there weren’t many drivers who make efforts to keep a safe distance between their vehicles and others when running on highways.

“I have seen many of them constantly trying to move forwards and squeeze into spaces between vehicles so that they can go faster,” he said.  

In addition, when their vehicles had technical problems, drivers often came to a halt right in the middle of the highways or pulled over to the emergency lane without signaling others, Tài added.

“The highways’ management boards should look closely into this phenomenon and provide warnings and preventive measures,” he said.

About 47,000 vehicles use the 55km HCM City–Long Thành–Dầu Giây Expressway per day, said Nguyễn Viết Tân, director of Việt Nam Expressway Services Engineering JSC (VEC E).

As part of their cooperative efforts with the company, local authorities had committed to forbidding local farmers to walk on the highway, let their cattle run free, or break guardrails, Tân said.

However, those habits remained. On May 27, a herd of cows was seen wandering on the stretch of the highway near the Phú Hữu roundabout in HCM City’s District 9.

One of the cows startled drivers when it suddenly ran straight into the lane for heavy vehicles, causing them to hit the brakes and swerve to avoid a collision.

Sheaf burning on the side of highway is another factor that poses risks of traffic accidents.

On April 3, four cars, one container truck and one tanker travelling from HCM City to Đồng Nai Province piled up on the stretch of the HCM City–Long Thành–Dầu Giây Expressway near the province’s Đồng Môn Bridge when smoke from burnt stubble blocked drivers’ visibility.

Four other cars crashed in the opposite direction, also due to the smoke.

Luckily no one was killed, but four people were injured and the 10 vehicles were severely damaged in the two accidents.

Although some managing boards have prepared fire trucks in case of accidents on highways, there have as yet been no specific regulations on restricting stubble burning, and not causing smoke on the highways, said director Nguyễn Viết Tân of VEC E.

“It was not until recently that lawmakers considered stubble burning a potential cause of traffic accidents on highways,” he said.

Local residents living near the HCM City–Trung Lương Expressway were reported breaking guardrails to set up pumps to get water from ponds located by the highway.

The southern office of the Việt Nam Expressway Administration (under the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam) recently spent VNĐ500 million (US$22,000) fixing these guardrails, an official from the office said. They will be all repaired and replaced within the year, he said.

An official from the Việt Nam Expressway Corporation (VEC) said that a new expressway connecting HCM City with the southern province of Long An and Đồng Nai – known by the name of Bến Lức–Long Thành Expressway – will be open for public use by 2020, helping to reduce traffic for the HCM City–Long Thành–Dầu Giây Expressway.

Meanwhile, two more lanes should be added to the six-lane HCM City-Trung Lương Expressway in order to ease traffic overload on the highway, said an official from the Cửu Long Corporation for Investment Development and Project Management of Infrastructure. — VNS

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