This week, Southeast Asian countries kicked off their first-ever traffic police forum in Hanoi.
The ASEAN Traffic Police Forum, an initiative of Vietnam, was held in the country’s capital, with representatives from nine of the ten ASEAN member states (excluding Brunei). All in all, around 150 delegates from Southeast Asian states are attending the three-day meeting, which will officially end on Wednesday.
During the forum, participants have discussed a range of issues including statistical work in the field, experiences on traffic law enforcement, and the building of mechanisms that encourage information-sharing and technical support across the region. As Vietnam’s Minister for Public Security Senior Lieutenant Gen. To Lam said in his opening remarks, traffic congestion, road accidents, and law and order more generally are issues that face most Southeast Asian countries.
Vietnam in particular has devoted significant national attention to the issue, which partly explains its leadership on it in the regional sphere. Traffic accidents remain a huge problem in the country despite government efforts to address it. Last year, the country reported 22,404 traffic incidents, which killed 8,671 people and injured 20,556 others, according to the country’s Traffic Police Department. Some have said the death toll could be higher, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 14,000 people lose their lives each year in the country due to road traffic crashes.
As Major General Tran Son Ha, the head of the Traffic Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security, said, given the impact that traffic safety and order have on the people of Southeast Asia, addressing this issue is an important part of building an ASEAN Community.
Vietnamese officials said a statement issued at the first ASEAN Traffic Police Forum suggested that ASEAN member states work on several regional measures to facilitate cooperation, including a communications network, technical support, common ways to assess traffic metrics, and even recognizing driving licenses issued among the bloc’s members.
If the Forum continues to be sustained beyond its first iteration, then it will be rotated around amongst Southeast Asian states in the coming years, adding to the list of over 1,000 ASEAN meetings held annually.