Crossing Cambodia

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vrom Vietnam

Foreigner visitors keeping up with Vietnamese traffic standards in Saigon: no helmets, poor mirrors. Picture was taken in November 2006. Now who do these two remind you of? Not this very responsible dream couple from the States?

So any news from the eastern front? Naturally. To start of with the high co-efficient between Hanoi, professors and accidents. Tragically both the President of Hanoi National University and a visiting professor from M.I.T., USA were hit by motorcycles in Hanoi within a day of each other, the previous month. The first died, the other returned home in a coma. Especially the accident with the American professor is worthwhile to mention that he was at the moment of the accident discussing how to solve Hanoi's traffic problems with a Vietnamese colleague. Crossing Cambodia has two links to these stories, from VOA and from the Taipei Times.

The following refers to various fragments from these articles:
'The accident rate throughout Vietnam is high, and rising. In the first nine months of this year, 9,400 Vietnamese died in accidents - up eight percent over last year.'
Just 8 percent?
'Le Sy Hoang works for Asia Injury:
'You see the accident rate is increasing, and it seems that drunk driving and running the red light happens all the time, without the enforcement of the police," she said. "The doctor who is in charge of head injury in Viet Duc Hospital, it seems they should be most aware of the problem, but still, it seems that 90 percent of the [doctors] there do not wear a helmet.'
So what's different from Cambodia?
'Government statistics show traffic accidents, the leading cause of death in Vietnam, claim about 12,000 lives every year in the country of 84 million. Some international organizations estimate the actual number is twice as high.'
Here, same, same.
'Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City roads teem with speeding motorbikes. Traffic law enforcement is lax. Drivers routinely run red lights and go the wrong way on one-way streets. Very few motorcyclists use helmets and many drivers lack experience, said Greig Craft, president of the Asia Injury Prevention Fund, a nonprofit group that makes low-cost helmets and promotes safe driving.'
"I would call the traffic situation here an absolute crisis," Craft said. "In the West, if you run a red light, it is culturally unacceptable. But here, the young Vietnamese think it's cool." Craft's group has been working for years to persuade Vietnam to make helmets mandatory, which he says would immediately cut traffic deaths by more than 30 percent.
Thirty percent? So government intervention could result in 3,000-4,000 deaths less per year? So why isn't the Vietnamese government enforcing helmet wearing. It reminds me of last weeks Bangkok Post travel section on the new old tourism campaign called Amazing Thailand. The reporter mentioned that it's amazing that in Thailand during the new year holiday period more than 500 people died in 5 days, more than the death rate in Baghdad, at least on some days. And the bombs in Baghdad got more coverage!

Concerning the same article in the Bangkok Post Crossing Cambodia was thinking how it is possible that in Thailand they know the death rate nearly instantaneously and how come in Cambodia they spend nearly a month adding and subtracting?

What is obvious, the eastern wind is blowing in Cambodia. Cambodia does have a lot in common with Vietnam ...

Anyway, on a lighter note, the BBC report that a 2m model of a nappy has been banned because:
'It is light brown, the same colour as the uniforms of Vietnam's traffic police, and the inside of the nappy is made of dozens of pockets - each fastened by a police button.'

Clinton, helmets and Vietnamese kids

Other news: HCM City enjoys public transport. So, can this be replicated in Cambodia or do we prefer the 'ill' winds from the east?
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