Are citizen reports of traffic violators good?

July 13, 2016 - 09:00

Traffic violation images or video provided by private citizens will be used to help police identify and crack down on violators. The new measures take effect next month under a new Government decree on traffic violations.

Viet Nam News

By Bích Hường

Traffic violation images or video provided by private citizens will be used to help police identify and crack down on violators. The new measures take effect next month under a new Government decree on traffic violations.

Many people are applauding the rule, saying that collecting evidence to punish traffic violators will no longer be the sole responsibility of law enforcement authorities. Others are concerned about possible invasion of privacy and the implications of citizens doing the job of the police.   

Vice head of the HCM City Bar Association, lawyer Bùi Quang Nghiêm, believes collecting evidence of traffic violations should not be the sole domain of the traffic police.

“Citizens or organisations should be encouraged to use cameras, recorders or mobile phones to capture traffic violations and then send them to authorised agencies,” he said.

The citizens’ reporting would help detect and punish violators in a timely fashion, Nghiêm said. He added that drivers would likely be more careful if they know that their violations could be recorded anytime and anyplace, rather than where police or police cameras are present.

But attorney Nguyễn Hữu Thế Trạch, a member of the HCM City Bar Association, said this kind of reporting could have negative impacts.

For example, those who record suspected traffic violation could publish them online and risk slandering the alleged violators, he said.

“Any action would be considered a law violation only when there is a decision, conclusion or judgment by juristic agencies,” Trạch said.

He said it was necessary to have clear, detailed regulations on citizen recordings in order to help police punish violations.

Senior Lt. Col. Đỗ Thanh Bình, vice head of the Traffic Police Department under the Public Security Ministry, said the new decree would provide an additional tool to detect road traffic violations and generate evidence to crack down on violators.

Although records provided by private citizens are not considered legal evidence, they are still useful as a reference to serve police investigations and verifications.

Moreover, under Article 14 of the Law on Handling Administrative violations, every citizen and organisation has a responsibility in detecting, reporting and fighting administrative violations.

People who record a traffic offence can report the incident to local traffic offices or contact the Traffic Police Department via hotline 069.2342608 or email

Bình said traffic violation images/video provided by citizens were also used in other countries.

Since early last year, the Bangalore traffic police launched Public Eye web and mobile applications on which citizens can report traffic violations by uploading photos, along with vehicle registration numbers, type of violation and place.

Since 2014, Qatar residents who spot motorists breaking road rules are being reminded that they can take photos of the violations and report them to the country’s Ministry of Interior (MOI), through the Metrash 2 mobile phone app.

However, there is concern about taking photos and reporting other motorists because it is a violation of Qatar’s traffic law to use a mobile phone while driving. A traffic consultant said the app should only be used by passengers and pedestrians – not those who are driving, reported Doha News.

Some residents have commented that they would feel uncomfortable taking photos of Qatari nationals.

In addition, the Metrash reporting system requires photos to be taken with the GPS coordinates of where the violation took place and uploaded immediately, which could be difficult and potentially dangerous if they are driving at the time.

Driver Nguyễn Văn Công in Hà Nội said that while it was not rare to find other drivers breaking the law, “it’s impossible to catch their violations because I’m unable to drive and take a photo or activate a camera at the same time.”

"If I could take a photo or record the violations, I would rather post them on my Facebook wall so that my friends can see than report to police, which is sometimes troublesome," he said.

We all expect better road safety. Reporting traffic violations is a way to improve road safety. Citizens have both rights and responsibilities to provide police with traffic violation images. -- VNS