The World Health Organization commends the Government of Vietnam and its road safety agencies for their strengthened resolve to make roads safe on September 28.
Announced this week, Government Decree 71 supplements the regulations on administrative violations in road traffic and addresses many important road safety issues including a substantial scale up of the penalties for drinking and driving, a major risk factor for road trauma in Vietnam.
Alcohol is a major cause of road trauma in Vietnam with surveys estimating more than 30 percent of road traffic fatalities and up to 60 percent of hospitalized road trauma patients having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit.
With such a heavy burden the introduction of new penalties for drinking and driving is very welcome news to national and international road safety experts who have long petitioned for greater sanctions.
According to Decree 71, which will come into force in November, penalties for severe offences (BAC>0.08g/dl blood) will increase by up to 2.5 times compared to existing levels.
Intoxicated drivers will be subject to a fine ranging from VND10-15 million ($481-$721), approximately half the average annual per capita income.
The penalties for motorbike drivers committing the same offence will be from VND2-3 million ($96-$144).
In addition to the tough financial penalties, all drivers and riders will also simultaneously lose their license and their vehicle for between 10 and 60 days.
Importantly, and highlighting the critical importance of keeping alcohol impaired drivers off the road, Decree 71 provides that any motorcyclist with a BAC over 0.05g/dl will have their vehicle impounded for 10 days – a penalty which previously only applied when riders had a BAC over 0.08g/dl.
Under the auspices of the RS10 program, WHO and the National Traffic Safety Committee launched a hard hitting social marketing campaign on the dangers and consequences of drink driving which will be broadcast on national television until the end of 2012.
The World Health Organization is pleased to have been given the opportunity to contribute to this legislation and we will continue to collaborate closely with the Government of Vietnam to implement Decree 71 and help save lives on Vietnam’s roads.