A traffic police officer breathalyses a truck driver travelling on the Hà Nội-Lào Cai expressway. VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tuấn
Nguyễn Ngọc Tường, deputy head of the HCM City Transport Safety Committee, talks to Sài Gòn Giải phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper on his committee’s resolve to continue the crackdown on drink driving during the coronavirus outbreak
Can you give us accident data relating to drink driving in HCM City?
From 2014-2018, the number of road accidents caused by alcohol in the city accounted for about 6-9 per cent of total road accidents.
In 2018 alone, some 25,600 accidents involving drivers over the legal blood-alcohol level were reported by the city transport police and in 2019, accidents due to drinking and driving drivers were almost the same. According to a report by the HCM City Trade Department, during the recent Tết or Lunar New Year festival, more than 40 million litres of beer were consumed in the city. The HCM City People's Committee has already raised the alarm of the need for the city to impose strong measures to stop people from drinking and driving.
How is a driver's blood-alcohol level measured?
There are two ways to measure a driver's blood-alcohol levels: qualitative and quantitative tests. Transport policy has various stations to check drivers’ blood-alcohol levels through the use of a special tool. Each test takes only about five seconds and it does not cause any problem for traffic flow.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, is it fair for drivers to fear for their health when taking a breathalyser test?
The Ministry of Health has issued a protocol on how the tests should be conducted to protect both the police and the driver.
According to a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Việt Nam, such a test protocol should be used in the country. The only recommendation the WHO has given is that Việt Nam should use proper safety gear for policemen on duty and one test tube for each driver to avoid any risks to the policeman and the driver. We are confident the test protocol is safe for both the police and drivers.
Do you think the law on sanctioning people who drink and drive is strong enough?
Under Vietnamese law, those who drink and drive and cause an accident will be punished depending on the seriousness of each case. This could be up to 15 years of imprisonment or a heavy fine.
We hope the heavy fines will deter drivers from drinking and driving or drinking to commit serious crimes. In other words, everyone should learn that if you drink, you don’t drive. — VNS