Can Traffic Enforcement Be Made Safer?


On June 30, a traffic police officer was severely injured after being thrown to the street when he was trying to stop a speeding container truck on a highway in the north-central province of Ha Tinh.

A video capturing the horrific scene of the moving truck with the officer gripping its rear-view mirror went viral on the internet.

In the video footage, the truck kept moving for a while before swerving to the right, throwing the officer to the median strip on the left side of the road.

Vietnamese netizens had mixed reactions to the video.

It’s not the first time such a thing has happened in Vietnam. In 2012, a traffic police officer was filmed in somewhat similar circumstances, clinging on to the windshield wipers of a moving bus for nearly a mile as the driver tried to avoid a ticket.

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Prior to the incident, the officer ordered the bus driver to pull over the 39-seat passenger bus but the driver allegedly refused to show his paperwork and started to drive off.

The officer leaped onto the front of the bus, which reached speeds of about 50km/h.

A YouTube video showed the officer trying to get his footing while dangling precariously from the moving bus as it surged past oncoming traffic.

The driver eventually pulled over after being chased by police and residents.

This incident started a disturbing trend in Vietnam as a number of similar cases in which traffic police officers have risked their lives to chase daring traffic violators.

The Ha Tinh officer is being treated for his injuries and his condition is now stable.

Some others were not as lucky. On April 15, an officer in Dong Nai Province was fatally run over by a truck after he clung onto the rear-view mirror of the overloaded vehicle.

The driver was then sentenced to six years in prison.

These cases lead to debate the necessity for traffic police to resort to such drastic methods to do their jobs instead of safer alternatives such as recording the vehicle’s registration number and issuing a fine later or relaying information to other police officers nearby to form a roadblock.

Da Nang’s police force could be used as an example of safe but effective enforcement as they impose very strict off-site fines and even confiscation of the offending vehicles.

The streets in Da Nang are also equipped with surveillance cameras, to prevent road users from breaking rules even without the presence of police officers, providing an option to the other cities on a new enforcement method for the traffic police.

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Hanoi police data shows that only 60 percent of traffic tickets are sent to traffic violators in the city with the remaining not sent to the right addresses.

Also, around 20 percent of the violators ignore the tickets without much repercussions.

In Vietnam, the sheer amount of overloaded trucks, dangerous motorbikes, vehicles with faulty lights, driving or riding against the flow of traffic, distracted driving due to the use of mobile phones, and drink driving are a burden on traffic police and it remains to be seen if this situation will be improved in the near future.

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