Green Spirit in Motion – A Local Family’s Tragic Traffic Story
It doesn’t take long for visitors to Vietnam to discover that the traffic can be extremely dangerous if not adhered to properly. Though there are official rules on how traffic needs to operate, these are very loose and are often completely ignored, with little chance of repercussion for drivers. Unsurprisingly, this places the death rate from traffic accidents in Vietnam as one of the highest in Asia.
In February 2014, Mr. Đỗ Viết Hoa was very close to becoming yet one more traffic-related fatality. He and his wife, Ms. Lê Thị Vui, had appeared on the local news and their story had caught the eyes of the Green Spirit team. We quickly arranged to come to the house of the couple and speak to Ms. Vui, who was only 19 years old, about the horrific accident that had left her husband with a traumatic brain injury.
Ms. Vui told us how her husband was driving down a busy road in Hoai Duc village, just outside of Hanoi, without his helmet - a common problem in Vietnam and one that leads to incidents such as this. 10 minutes after he had left the house, Ms. Vui received a call from a stranger on her husband’s phone, telling her about a horrible crash that had left Mr. Hoa unconscious in the middle of the road.
On our visit, Ms. Vui’s husband lay unresponsive beside her as she explained what had happened. Their 2-year old son sat with his mother, who was already pregnant with another child during the time of her husband’s crash. The Green Spirit team were heartbroken to see such a young girl in such a difficult situation, and we offered help in the form of comforting words and gifts to help her get by.
After talking to Ms. Vui for several hours, we learnt that she is a very strong-willed young woman and we felt buoyed by this as we left. The message she wanted to share is about the importance of road safety – you can never be sure of your own safety in Vietnam, but you should prepare yourself in any way that you can; with helmets, mirrors and by driving as safely as possible.
In Hoai Duc, the problem of locals driving fast without helmets is just as prominent as it has ever been. Until rules are implemented on a wider scale, traffic accidents like the one that befell Mr. Hoa remain likely to happen.