BackStories » A Look at Saigon’s Interesting Definition of ‘Traffic Jam’

A Look at Saigon’s Interesting Definition of ‘Traffic Jam’

When it comes to Vietnamese traffic management, the fun never ends. Between Hanoian officials telling drivers in the capital to be more like the Saigonese, Saigon officials insisting there are no traffic jams in the city and the notion that thinner sidewalks will help to alleviate traffic congestion, the ongoing adventure that is driving in Vietnam happens to be a pretty good source of entertainment these days.

Hot on the heels of Department of Transport (DoT) Director Bui Xuan Cuong's observation that traffic jams do not exist in Saigon, the latest chapter in our epic traffic saga unfolded as average citizens and experts alike responded to the official's comments.

According to Tuoi Tre, the phrase 'traffic jam' may have varying definitions around the world, but it appears that Saigon officials have a different interpretation than everyone else on earth – certainly, at least, different from the average local citizen caught huffing thick, hot exhaust fumes during the evening rush hour.

By DoT standards, a traffic jam must consist of at least 30 minutes of stand-still congestion on a given street, meaning that if your motorbike inches a few feet within the space of a half-hour you're not technically stuck in traffic. Based on this definition, traffic police recorded only one traffic jam last year and zero such incidents through the first seven months of 2015.

While Cuong, the same official who insisted that Saigon's traffic jams aren't real traffic jams, admits the definition is a little outdated and could probably use an update, Tuoi Tre explained it like so: “The traffic safety committee admitted the definition of traffic congestion has not been clearly mentioned in any documents, and thus there is difference in the perception between people and officials.”

Call the city's traffic congestion what you will – perception, reality, mass hallucination – regardless of the name, it is perhaps time to address the outdoor fire hazard that is rush hour traffic in the city.

[Photo via Flickr user stereotyp-0815]

Related Articles:

There Are No Traffic Jams In Saigon: Department of Transport Director

Hanoi Official: You Want Less Traffic Congestion, Learn to Drive Like the Saigonese

Saigon Proposes 'Trimming' Sidewalks to Address Traffic Woes

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