Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wrong Lane, Officer?

(PICTURE: Motorbikes are supposed to drive in the shoulder...where the police car is.)

Take a good look at the picture above. Notice that there are two lanes and a shoulder on the highway. Well, for as long as I can remember, Vietnamese people have told me not to drive in the shoulder because many people get flats or blown tires because of glass and rocks on the shoulder. Basically, it's more dangerous to drive in the shoulder. As an American, this comes as second nature to me. The shoulder on American highways is for emergency use only. Well, after driving for over two years in Vietnam, I learned something new: It is illegal for motorbikes to drive on the road and not in the shoulder. I learned this because Huyen and I were pulled over on our way to our wedding interview. This was really annoying to me for a few reasons:
1. There were no cars on the highway in sight when we were driving in the right lane (although there is a truck in the picture above which passed us as we were paying our fine).
2. The only car in sight at the time was the police car which was PARKED IN THE SHOULDER! I literally saw a few motorbikes driving in the shoulder, pull into the road and then get pulled over for not driving in the shoulder.
3. The road was much better paved than the shoulder. AKA much safer.
4. I saw the cops pull over about 7 people. There literally wasn't a motorbike that passed that didn't get pulled over. However, some of the drivers knew better than me. As soon as they were pulled over they immediately turned on the gas and flew back on to the highway. The cops just shook their head but never gave chase. Man, I wish I had the guts to just fly by the police!

This little brush with the law cost us 100,000 VND or roughly $5. Not too bad for breaking the law but still annoying. I can also promise you this, I will still drive in the right lane and not the shoulder the next time I'm on the highway.