Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked transport agencies and local authorities to take drastic measures to improve traffic safety during the rest of the year, a time when the death toll on the road usually increases.

He urged traffic authorities to catch and fine more motorists and car drivers who committed traffic violations such as drink driving. Recalcitrant drivers who refused to have their blood alcohol level tested would be subject to the highest level of fines.

In an interview with Vietnam News on Sept. 23, chief of the secretariat of the National Traffic Safety Committee Than Van Thanh said that about 40 percent of road traffic accidents in Vietnam were alcohol-related and 10 percent of motor vehicle deaths were associated with alcohol use.

He said that a campaign carried out last month by traffic police and inspectors across the nation demonstrated Vietnam 's commitment to addressing the issue of drink driving.

"The campaign against drink driving will not be confined to only one month as we are considering making it the umbrella theme for our campaigns next year," Thanh said.

He said one obstacle traffic police faced was the shortage of breathalysers, particularly the modern type that is capable of detecting the alcohol content in a suspected driver's blood through the simplest of breath tests.

The Prime Minister also called for tight inspection and punitive actions against transport enterprises whose drivers violated traffic safety laws, including speeding, illegal overtaking, travelling in the wrong lanes or overloading vehicles with passengers.

Thanh said that to get to the root of the problem, transport enterprises should be liable for their drivers' traffic violations as bus drivers were partly driven by the pressure of making as much profit as possible, with managers pushing some drivers to take short cuts when it comes to traffic safety.

According to National Traffic Safety Committee statistics, there were 43 more deaths on the nation's roads during the first eight months of this year compared with the death toll for the same period last year.

In total, there were 7,550 deaths on the road during the first eight months of the year, with an average of 30 people being killed each day.

Dung also required Hanoi and HCM City to boost work on easing chronic traffic jams.

In the meantime, local authorities should come up with a sound mechanism to design separate multiple lanes on roadways for different types of vehicles. This work has already started with some major roads such as Ba Trieu and Pho Hue in Hanoi being divided.

He said pavements and roads should not be leased out and used as parking space for motorbikes. Establishments breaking violations on keeping pavements clear would have their business licences revoked if it was shown that they were worsening traffic flow./.