In just over a week, there have been at least four accidents in its section of Dinh Quan district, Dong Nai province, involving trucks and passenger buses. Five people lost their lives there.
The latest occurred on September 30 when a sleeper bus crashed into a 16-seater van, killing the van driver and four passengers.
The highway stretches more than 260 km from Thong Nhat district in Dong Nai province, near HCMC, to Don Duong district in the central highlands province of Lam Dong, home to Da Lat , one of the main tourist attractions in Vietnam.
It crosses two passes.
As the only link between the two cities, it is usually crowded.
A section of National Highway 20 passing through Dinh Quan district of Dong Nai province. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
Apart from buses and vans carrying passengers, the road is also used by cargo trucks, especially those transporting vegetables from Lam Dong to HCMC, increasing the risk of accidents.
Nguyen Van Minh, 45, who lives in Dinh Quan district, said the road is busiest at night and passenger buses drive very fast and honk loudly, demanding priority.
During the day, when the highway is not busy, truck and bus drivers take the wrong lane to pass other vehicles, he said.
Motorcycles must stay on the side of the road to protect themselves from large vehicles.
“There would be a road accident every few days.”
According to official data, in the first nine months of this year there were 40 major accidents on the highway, in which 34 people died and another 20 were injured.
Last year there were 24 accidents and 22 deaths.
Most of them occurred in the Dong Nai and Bao Loc Pass section of Lam Dong province.
A van after colliding with a truck on National Highway 20 in Dong Nai province, April 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Thai Ha
An official from the Vietnam Roads Department said that National Highway 20 is a crucial road connecting HCMC with the southeastern region and the central highlands and normally has a lot of traffic, but only two lanes and no middle band.
He admitted that many drivers were driving too fast and failing to maintain a safe distance from each other.
Hills, passes, sharp turns, steep slopes and sometimes thick fog make things more difficult.
The section through Dong Nai province includes many residential areas and narrow stretches that do not exceed six meters in some places.
Pham Hoai, 36, a truck driver who often transports fresh vegetables from Da Lat to the Thu Duc wholesale market in HCMC, said normally the vegetables are loaded late in the afternoon so they can arrive at the early morning walk.
“Drivers only have six hours to travel a distance of more than 350 km from Da Lat to HCMC, otherwise our salaries are reduced.”
Meanwhile, in the opposite direction, sleeper buses from HCMC carry passengers to Da Lat, as people prefer to travel at night.
As a result, most drivers on the highway suffer from lack of sleep and cannot concentrate on their driving, Hoai said.
Col. Tran Anh Son, deputy director of the Dong Nai Police Department, said the highway department should provide the province with data on all vehicles traveling on the highway for better tracking.
“This will enable Dong Nai police to easily identify drivers who violate traffic laws as well as when and where these violations occur.”
The Ministry of Roads recommended that the Ministry of Transport widen the highway, build a median strip and install more surveillance cameras to catch violators.
The Dau Giay – Lien Khuong Expressway is currently under construction and will span more than 200 kilometers between Dong Nai and Lam Dong province, relieving pressure on National Highway 20.
It is expected to be completed by 2030.
A map of National Highway 20 between Dong Nai province and Da Lat. Photo by Google Maps