A team of local and foreign scientists at the Vietnamese-German Transport Research Centre at the Vietnamese–German University is developing new road traffic signals that will help improve traffic flow and safety on the country's roads.

They will be based on the latest German guidelines for traffic signals, though with variations to suit local conditions, the team told a seminar held Sept. 29 in HCM City .

Do Quoc Cuong of the University of Transport and Communications' Road and Traffic Engineering, said the congestion and accidents that often occurr at intersections are due to poor road safety signals.

The current signal system causes a chaotic build-up of buses, cars, motorbikes, and bicycles at red lights, he said.

"The signals are based on 1950s standards and have not been updated," he said, suggesting that different kinds of vehicles should be separated into different zones at red lights to improve traffic safety and speed up the flow.

He also suggested establishing new forms of intersections.

In HCM City , there are 628 signals, 524 of them using a countdown system.

Le Thu Huyen, head of the University of Transport and Communications' Consulting Centre for Transport Development, said violating traffic regulations, such as jumping red, is common in Vietnam .

Human behaviour causes almost all traffic accidents, including fatalities, she added.

Dr Khuat Viet Hung, head of the Vietnamese – German Transport Research Centre, said the research, being done by the Vietnamese - German University, University of Transport and Communications, and Germany's Darmstadt University of Technology, will be finished in a year's time and the result submitted to the Ministry of Transport.

A new national standard for road traffic signals will be piloted in Hanoi and HCM City before nationwide application./.