News / Asia

Vietnam Curbs Traffic to Improve Safety, Air Quality

FILE - A motorist talks on his mobile phone while waiting at a traffic junction in Hanoi in this 2011 photo.
FILE - A motorist talks on his mobile phone while waiting at a traffic junction in Hanoi in this 2011 photo.
Vietnam is attempting to combat the traffic-related problems of crashes and smog.
 
Traffic accidents are a leading killer here, especially among teenagers.
 
Roughly 14,000 Vietnamese die each year after a crash, putting this nation of 90 million among the top 10 countries to suffer road-related deaths, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.
 
That figure could come down as Vietnam experiments with ways to get more vehicles off the road and more pollutants out of the air.
 
The Ministry of Transport has introduced a raft of proposals, from restricting car access to downtown areas, to investing in more sidewalks and electric vehicles, to changing some school and work hours.
 
That last option, which is meant to reduce traffic during peak hours, has already rolled out in parts of Hanoi, but would expand to Ho Chi Minh City. Each city has more than seven million residents.
 
Trinh Van Chinh, a consultant for the transport ministry, said the change in hours is inconvenient but necessary.
 
“We have to help people understand better that this problem is really urgent.” Chinh said in an interview at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport, where he also teaches.
 
Planners hope that by staggering business and school hours, they could cut traffic accidents by as much as 10 percent and cut traffic jams by 30 percent.
 
Some have criticized and even poked fun at the policy.
 
Unclogging congestion
 
But Akira Hosomi, who is helping Vietnam build a metro system through the Japan International Consultants for Transportation, said the policy can succeed because he has seen similar ideas work elsewhere. He said that Singapore charges metro-goers less during non-peak hours in order to control congestion.
 
Besides bringing the country’s first subway system online in the next few years, the transport ministry wants to get more Vietnamese to use city buses.
 
In its latest proposals, it suggesting lower fares and free parking at key transit points where commuters could hop onto buses. Signs have gone up around Ho Chi Minh City, urging residents to take the bus.
 
This would require weaning drivers off the motorbike.
 
In Vietnam, unlike more industrialized parts of Asia, the motorbike still rules the road. That means drivers here are more exposed to pollution, Hosomi said, not to mention collisions.
 
“I think the air pollution in Vietnam, specifically Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is getting more serious day by day,” he said.
 
Hosomi added that the wide availability of cheap fuel contributes to smog. So do four-wheel cars, which is why the government aims to limit them in city centers and charge drivers a fee to go downtown. Officials also want to promote electric vehicles.
 
Car importers balk
 
But Horst Herdtle said that shouldn’t mean discouraging traditional cars. Herdtle is CEO of Euro Auto, which imports BMW cars to Vietnam.
 
He said his cars meet such tough European emission standards before coming to Vietnam that “probably a water buffalo emits more harmful substances than a passenger car.”
 
The government will have an even tougher time controlling vehicles after 2018, when it’ll have to forgo import duties for vehicles from within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
 
The change is part of further regional integration, including an Asean Economic Community that kicks off in 2015. Vietnam halved the auto import taxes this year which used to mean a buyer paid as much as twice the sticker price of a car.
 
At the same time, Vietnam has succeeded in some of its mass-media traffic campaigns. A push for drivers to wear helmets has resulted in a 90-percent compliance rate, according to the World Health Organization.
 
Billboards remind drivers that “Safety comes first” or that this is the “Year of Traffic Safety.”
 
But environmentalist Phan Ha Vy said there aren’t enough campaigns that look beyond safety to include the environment.
 
“There’s so much pollution because people aren’t conscious about the environment,” Vy said.
 
VY lives in Ho Chi Minh City but grew up in Vung Tau, a beach town three hours southeast. She said the streets back home were far cleaner, less crowded; she was more likely to walk outside. Now she rides a motorbike.
 
“Even if I go for a walk here, there’s too much dust,” she said. “So I really don’t want to go out, it’s hard to tolerate.”
 
Most Vietnamese deal with the pollution by donning masks.
 
Many go for walks and exercise outside at the crack of dawn when there are fewer vehicles and the smog hasn’t set in.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sannidhi from: Hyderabad, India
February 04, 2014 7:23 AM
This is a problem not only with the Vietnam but, around the world. To curb pollution and traffic jams, I think immediate solution is to use public transport(which drastically reduces) and, where it's not possible, it's better if we travel together with others in same vehicle. If 2 people(who drive separate motor bikes) travel in same vehicle, there will be 1 less motor bike on road and hence pollution is 50% lesser. I wonder how much can Govt. and officials do? I think, it's the responsibility of general public too. As people may travel on motor bike, car and cab/taxi, this is where JoinNTravel helps a lot. MUCH BEYOND CARPOOL CONCEPT AND OFFICE HOURS, JoinNTravel is an online platform to help travelers connect with others going by MOTORBIKE, CAR and even by CAB/TAXI! It's 100% free! @ https://joinntravel.com

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid