The Ho Chi Minh City police have been cracking down on illegal street racing as best as they can but, faced with many hurdles, it is not clear how much headway they are making in curbing this menace.
“Our special force that deals with street racing is certainly outnumbered by racers,” Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Ngoc Binh, head of the Binh Thanh District traffic police, said.
“Thousands could gather for a race.
“We are stretched since our men have to patrol the streets at night and have other tasks in the day.”
Besides, their hands are tied in many ways, many traffic police chiefs lament.
Since officers are not allowed to chase after racers on streets due to considerations for the safety of other road users and the racers themselves, they cannot really stop the reckless, mostly young, racers, they explain.
“We should be allowed to chase them down and wear plain clothes to easily approach them,” Binh said.
The current penalties for street racing are thought to be too mild to deter “night storm,” as the media has dubbed the racing, which has become rampant and poses a grave threat to other road users.
Decision 34 imposes a fine of VND5 million-7 million (US$239- 335) for riding while lying on the bike, hands-free, with feet on handlebar, or sitting on one side, all racers’ favorite stunts.
In some cases, licenses are taken away for 90 days or revoked.
But “their bikes are not taken away if they do these stunts,” Captain Tran Hong Minh of the Tan Binh District traffic police said.
“The financial penalty is not heavy enough to deter many youngsters who have money in their pockets.
“So, these teenagers are not afraid of anything and just get more and more reckless.
“Harsher penalties should be imposed, and their vehicles should also be taken away.”
Racers may face criminal charges.
The city police are making plans to curb racing. Local police at places where racers frequent will report to the traffic police in their neighborhood.
They will also keep an eye on mechanic shops where racers frequently visit to upgrade their bikes and make them faster.
“Serious cases involving racers who keep repeating the offense will be sentenced to public labor,” Captain Minh said, “or sent to reformatories or other education centers.”
In Binh Thanh District, some cases have recently been brought to court and racers face criminal charges for “disturbing public order,” Binh said.