Fatal traffic accidents have soared in the run up to Tet, raising fears about road safety over the holiday period.

A bus travelling from Nha Trang City in the central region to HCM City with 30 passengers on board overturned on National Highway 1A on Jan. 21, killing two passengers and injuring 10 others.

On the same day, a car collided with two motorbikes in Hanoi's Cau Giay district, killing two people and injuring three others.

According to the Ministry of Public Security's Department of Road and Railroad Traffic Police there were 385 traffic accidents in the country between January 14 and January 24 that killed 242 people and injured 261.

Hanoi-based Viet Duc hospital said between 80-100 road accident victims had been treated daily – 75 per cent of all its admissions.

However, Nguyen Trong Thai, deputy chief of the secretariat of the National Committee for Traffic Safety, said the death rate was lower than last year. He said, on average 31 people died in traffic accidents each day in the run up to the last year's Tet holiday.

He attributed the majority of deaths to drink driving.

Tran Son, deputy head of the Department of Road and Railroad Traffic Police's Office of Law Guidance and Traffic Accident Investigation, said traffic police had been ordered to step up patrols over the holidays.

Meanwhile, bus terminals and railways stations in HCM City have been inundated by travellers looking to return home for the holidays.

Transport officials said the number of passengers at bus and railway stations was three times higher than normal in the run up to Tet.

Staff at Mien Dong Coach Terminal said there were 40,000 passengers wishing to travel by bus on Sunday alone.

"Every year it is the same. In the last ten days of the lunar year, bus terminals, are congested around the clock," said Nguyen Van Ut, a xe om (motorbike taxi) driver at Mien Dong coach station.

It is a similar story at nearby Sai Gon Railway Station.

Nguyen Van Thanh, the station's deputy director, said about 135,000 passengers were expected to travel from HCM City to central and northern provinces between now and the first day of Tet.

Le Quang Dung, an official at HCM City train station, said the volume of freight transported on the railways also rose sharply over the holiday period.

Highways in and around the city's suburbs are also congested.

On the Hanoi Highway, traffic is virtually at a standstill for most of the day at the Thu Duc and Binh Thai intersections./.