Traffic is crazy in Vietnam, yet there aren't a ton of accidents... how?

I know from having lived in a number of places in the world that traffic accidents can be pretty gruesome. Personally I have been in a few of them in my life and all of them were in the United States where we have pretty strict rules and lots of ways to get pulled over.

Of the things I received tickets for I got a ticket for not having my headlights on when it was raining (it was daytime), having illegal window tint even though the tint was legal in the state my car was registered to, for parking in an unmarked no parking zone, and of course speeding. Over here in Vietnam, the roads just look like chaos, yet I have never seen an accident here or even the aftermath of an accident. How is this possible?


If you go just about anywhere in Vietnam you are going to see pretty packed streets during the day. There are 90 million people in this country and if you squished it, it would fit inside of Texas. Texas is the second most populous state in USA and they don't even have 30 million people there. So yeah, there's a lot of people here and most of them are on motorbikes.

For one thing the traffic circles don't really seem to have the western notion of traffic flow and it just looks like everyone is entering and leaving them from all direction at all times.


Some of these circles have traffic lights as well but most of the ones I have been in to not. I have a strategy when I enter a traffic circle and this is to use a big ass truck as a shield as I enter on my bicycle. No one is moving particularly fast and believe it or not, it feels as though everyone in the circle really has their head on a swivel and knows exactly what is going on around them despite the fact that vehicles are coming from every direction.

The area that I live in is not nearly this congested but we do have plenty of 4 way intersections because the entire area is set up on a grid type format. Of all of the hundreds of intersections that exist in my neighborhood I have NEVER seen a single stop sign. When people approach these intersections there are two protocols (apparently): You beep your horn as a warning to the people coming from the other direction that there is another vehicle nearby and then approach the intersection with caution. Of course you get a jerk here and there with a deathwish that just blazes through without doing either but in the near 2 years I have been here I have only witnessed this a couple of times.

When I first arrived I got frustrated as I was riding around because I still had it in my head that horns are meant to kindly (or not so kindly) request that a person get out of your way. I was already as far over to the side of the road as I could get on my bicycle and this made me upset. I was like where do you want me to go??? only to later realize that they were not honking at me at all but rather, preparing for the upcoming intersection.

One would think that this lack of signage and stoplights would be a recipe for disaster but in a very strange way, it kind of just works. Sure it is going to be very scary the first few times you encounter it and I have no desire to ever operate a car in this country because you are such a huge target. However, I have never seen even the aftermath of an accident let alone one in the process of occurring the entire time I have been here.

Do things like this happen in the country you are living in? I admit I haven't been to all that many places but it is really funny (strange) to me that I come from a country with LOADS of road rules and people are crashing left and right. Here in Vietnam the roads appear to be a free-for-all and while they look nuts, they actually feel safer. How's this possible?

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