New tractor-trailer regulations worry drivers

Many truck drivers in the country are worried about a new regulation in the recent amendment of the Road Traffic Law. The regulation stipulates that drivers drive tractor-trailers and semi tractor- trailers must be qualified to do so.

Truck drivers must obtain a tractor-trailer driving license if they wish to continue driving such vehicles

The amendment of the Road Traffic Law was passed by National Assembly on November 13, 2008 and will be come into force on July 1.

Point g, Item 4, Article 59 says drivers eligible for driving tractor-trailers and semi tractor- trailers are drivers of: normal cars, buses of less than 30 seats, buses of more than 30 seats and trucks. They have to pass a driving test for such specialized vehicles and obtain a related driving license.

Before July 1, drivers with a truck driving license have been allowed to drive tractor-trailers and semi tractor- trailers.

The deputy standing president of the HCMC Cargo Transport Association, Dinh Nam Dinh, agreed with the amendment.

He said, “It’s a must for drivers of tractor-trailers and semi tractor- trailers to be trained to drive these kinds of vehicle and pass related qualified driving tests. Drivers of tractor-trailers and semi tractor-trailers must be more skillful than those of other kinds of vehicles.”

Although considered reasonable, the amendment is worrying not only truck drivers but also transportation companies and driving schools.

Last week, in its proposal to extend the effective date of the amendment to next year sent to the ministries of Transportation and Police, the HCMC Cargo Transport Association pointed out that it is just less than four months before the effective day of the amendment, but at present no relevant authorities or driving schools are ready.

The Association points out that there are now more than 10,000 drivers driving semi tractor- trailers and tractor-trailers nationwide but do not have appropriate licenses. Such drivers need training.

According to the amendment, those eligible for driving semi tractor- trailers and tractor-trailers must take part in a 208 hour training course including 160 practice hours.

The Association’s proposal said there will not be sufficient time for 10,000 drivers to take turns in such a long training course while there is just less than four months before the amendment comes into force.

Above all, no driving schools in the country have organized training courses for the new license. This is because of Point d, Item 3 of Article 54 of the current Road Traffic Law issued in 2001, which simply stipulates that drivers with truck driving license are qualified to drive semi tractor- trailers and tractor-trailers.

This means that no driving schools in Vietnam have textbooks, semi tractor- trailers and tractor-trailers, and facilities that meet with requirements available for students to learn and practice.

Mr Dinh emphasized that driving schools need time to build or hire grounds large enough for students to practice driving, and this cannot be done overnight.

He said that it will be more appropriate if the effective day of the amendment is extended until July 1, 2010 as this will give enough time for drivers and driving schools to prepare for the change.

To ease the problem, in the meeting with the Vietnam Automobile Transportation Association on March 6, the Deputy Minister of Transport, Le Manh Hung, said that the Ministry will take the HCMC Cargo Transport Association’s proposal into consideration and will outline an appropriate schedule for the application of the new regulation.

In the event that the Ministry of Transportation agrees to push back the effective day of the amendment to next year, the Ministry of Police should accordingly issue official guidance to police departments throughout the country that after July 1, drivers with truck driving licenses are still qualified for semi tractor- trailers and tractor-trailers.  

By Thien Nhan – Translated by Phuong Lan

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