Over half of road accidents in Vietnam occurred on national roads, a recently released report by the Transport Strategy Institute has shown.

Accidents on provincial roads account for 26 percent and city roads claim 23 percent.

The report concluded that more efforts should be made to improve traffic safety on national roads.

Vietnam's national roads, a network of roads and a few expressways that link all the major population centres in the country, remained inadequate in terms of both quantity and quality, said Dr Pham Huy Khang, Dean of the Highways and Airdrome Department at the Hanoi-based University of Transport. Only 43 percent of national roads were of a good standard, according to the report, and more than one fifth were "bad" or "very bad".

The length of national roads is also low, at 0.050km per square km and 0.2km per 1,000 people. The figures were "small compared to regional countries", said the report.

According to another traffic safety assessment that covered 3,800km of Vietnam's national roads in 2009, only 8 percent of them were "perfectly safe" for cars, and 6 percent for motorbikes.

"I usually get scared when I have to drive on national roads. Without hard shoulders, it's really dangerous for mixed vehicles to be in high-speed traffic," said Le Manh Hung, a road user from Hanoi.

Khang said Vietnam should have more expressways to improve traffic safety.

Expressways, as recognised internationally, must have no intersections or sharp bends and must have multiple lanes and hard shoulders, and be built solely for cars and lorries (not motorbikes).

With that definition, only the HCM-Trung Luong Expressway in the south and the Thang Long Expressway in the north came close to meeting international standards, said Khang.

A total of 13,700 road accidents with more than 11,000 deaths were reported in Vietnam last year, according to the National Traffic Safety Committee.

The number of accidents and casualties reduced by 2.4 and 0.4 percent respectively in the first two months of this year in comparison to the same period in 2010./.