Road safety in Vietnam

It is estimated that approximately 14,000 people lose their lives each year in Vietnam as a result of road traffic crashes. Motorcyclists account for 59% of the road traffic collisions in the country. Those aged between 15-49 years make up the majority of deaths on the roads. This group of people makes up 56% of the total population as well as being the most economically active group. WHO (World Health Organization) estimates the road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for those aged 15-29 years in Vietnam. Many of Vietnam’s existing road safety laws are either not comprehensive in their scope, or are poorly enforced says WHO.

Burden of Road traffic Injuries in Vietnam

  • 85 million people/26 million vehicles in Vietnam – 95% Motorcycles
  • Estimated 52% serious accidents caused by motorcycles
  • 9000 new motorcycles per day
  • 600 cars per day

Official statistics RTI in 2007:

  • 13,985 crashes
  • 12,800 deaths (15/100,000 population)
  • 10,266 injuries
  • Leading cause of death – Under-estimation (JICA)
  • Deaths (30%)
  • Injuries (90%)

It is serious business riding on the roads of Vietnam and it should not be taken lightly. Those who wish to ride in Vietnam need to arm themselves with every possible means to make their riding safer and more enjoyable.

Points to be aware of before hitting the roads of Vietnam:

1) Having an official Vietnamese motorbike Licence.

By obtaining a Vietnamese motorbike licence (which is LAW) you become a legal rider of the roads with all the protection of a licenced rider. No need to worry if you are stopped by the police as you can produce your legal documentation. When applying for your licence you will go for a riding test which you will need to pass and by doing so it will make you a better rider to face the roads of Vietnam.

2) Third Party Property Insurance.

Before heading off on your motorbike after passing your riding test you will have to purchase your Third Party Property Insurance. This Insurance is also required by the government and is LAW. It will cover you for any damage done to another person or their vehicle if you were to have an accident.

3) Purchase a suitable Helmet.

Many deaths and injuries can be avoided by wearing a helmet or by wearing a helmet that is approved and suitable for the riding conditions. Don’t chance your prize asset (Brain) by wearing an inferior helmet. It will only cost a few extra dollars but well worth the expense.

The 3 items above are an absolute necessity if you wish to ride on the roads of Vietnam. You will need to achieve these things first before even starting your motorbike.

Points to be aware of while riding on the roads of Vietnam:

1) Where to ride on the road.

In Vietnam it is the law to ride on the right hand side of the road but unfortunately as you will experience some riders ride on the left side. Position yourself on the right hand side of the lane and move at a steady pace with the rest of the traffic. Keep in pace with the bikes in front of you and you should be out of harms way to a degree. Don’t make any sudden moves while riding just use your indicators and edge your way in the direction that you want to go. It is a good thing to observe the good habits of other riders and follow them.

2) Pot holes and road debri.

Pot holes and debri on the road is very common and more so after flooding. Keep a safe distance away from the bike in front of you so you are able to see part of the road coming up before you. Pot holes and debri want to be seen by you before it is too late. Bikes in front tend to swerve missing pot holes and if you are not paying attention you may end up in one.

3) On coming traffic.

While riding in Vietnam you will be confronted with on coming traffic no matter what side of the road you are riding on. This can be rather confronting having bikes bearing down on you from a head on position. The thing to do here is make no sudden moves. Slow down and wait for the rider to pass you then accelerate on you way again. Traffic flows in all directions so you must develop good peripheral vision to avoid any mishaps. Always have your eyes firmly fixed on the direction you are travelling as bikes can appear from nowhere at times.

There are many other things you can do to arm yourself for a safer and more enjoyable ride. In the coming weeks I will include some more details to help keep you safe while riding in Vietnam.

Thanks for visiting and remember to ride safely.