Traffic accidents still remain as a critical problem in Southeast Asia. Based on the report of the ASEAN Regional Road Safety Strategy in 2016, the biggest risk faced by most ASEAN countries is traffic accidents caused by the considerable number of two-wheeled vehicles as the primary transportation. The number of trauma due to traffic accidents is quite high in ASEAN. Compared with other ASEAN countries, Vietnam becomes one of the countries with the highest mortality rate, which is 23,60% of 10,000 per population according to Bloomberg
Approximately 14,000 Vietnamese passed away each year due to traffic accidents in which 34% of the main causes of accidents are the high speed of riding, while 68% of the victims are motorists. The figure is 30 times greater than the death rate caused by the disease. Due to the high number of users of two-wheeled vehicles by 95%, this condition is exacerbated by a lack of adequate post-accident care, which is the ease to get ambulance services.
The high number of accidents is caused by several factors, such as loss of concentration while driving, using a mobile phone while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving at high speed, poor quality of existing infrastructure, and traffic police who are not aware of the traffic violations. Certainly, these factors did not occur by coincidence. Unclear regulation in governing motorist behavior, such as the maximum number of passengers, usage of seatbelts, and lack of law enforcement for violations, has triggered the car drivers to ignore their safety and other road users. The riders’ behavior in Vietnam is said to be very dangerous to other road users as it can be seen from their non-standardized national helmets, their unadjusted speed, their ignorance of traffic signs, a lot of underage drivers, and the frequent use of sidewalks as a track to accelerate their speed.
Recently, a motorist was hit by a truck as the rider switched the lane and stopped abruptly in front of the truck to pick up his friend. The accident also took the loss of three other lives. This incident simply illustrates the traffics in Vietnam inasmuch 35% of traffic accidents are caused by mistake to change lanes. Even by 2015, the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents in Vietnam represents 2.45% of GDP decline.
In order to address the high volume of accidents on the highway, there are several policies that the government can implement to improve the security of the drivers such as the regulations on the use of helmets in 2007. However, the policy does not seem to solve the problem since the rider’s helmet is cheap with very low quality and not being standardized as in other countries. According to the World Organization (WHO), 80% of helmets in Vietnam do not meet national standards.
To reduce the risk of accidents on the road, there are various ways that should be done, such as revitalizing the presence of police officers. They should be trained on what they should do when traffic violation or accident occurs. Besides, road users should be reminded about the importance of safety while riding by the use of punishment if they violate the traffic in order to minimize bad habits of driving.
As the central figure, the government should be strict toward the regulation of traffic that has been said to be quite apprehensive. Increasing penalties for offenders is one powerful way to reduce road accidents as it will increase the likelihood of riders to comply with the rules. The role of professional medical personnel is also important to reduce the death toll caused by accidents. Rescue teams for the accident should be increased in terms of their ability and quantity to cope with a high prevalence of the accidents. The use of public transport, such as bus or train, should be encouraged and accompanied by improvements in the quality of service so that motorists shift into public transports with a lower risk of accidents.
This article was written by Muhammad Azizurrohman, an undergraduate student of Economics Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta, Indonesia while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).