A year ago, at the annual consular consultation meeting between Vietnam and Russia, the Russian delegation asked Viet Nam not to rent motorbikes to Russian tourists who do not have valid Vietnamese driving licences.
The Russians said that if Russian tourists who drove motorcycles and cars in Viet Nam caused accidents, Russian insurance firms would not pay compensation.
In August 2013, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism issued a notice on the management of motorcycle rental services for Russian and foreign tourists.
The notice said that motorcycle rental shops were not allowed to rent vehicles to foreigners if they failed to present valid driving licences in accordance with Vietnam law. However, the regulation has not been properly observed.
There are 12 motorcycle rental shops along Pham Ngu Lao Street in District 1 which is considered "Foreigners' Street". To hire a motorcycle, foreigners only need to leave their passport and deposit, about VND5 million (US$240). The daily rent is VND150,000 (US$7).
Lawyer Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy from the HCM City Bar Association told the Nguoi lao dong (Labourer) newspaper that in many cases, foreigners caused traffic accidents, but they were only fined or expelled.
There were several reasons for this, she said. The offences were usually not intentional and many foreigners were willing to pay adequate compensation if victims withdrew their complaints.
However, according to the Supreme People's Court, if an accident was the fault of a driver who has been drinking, he or she would must be jailed, no matter what their nationality was, Thuy added.
Lawyer Nguyen Thanh Cong, a member of the HCM City Bar Association, said that those who drove without valid Vietnamese licences faced jail for up to 12 years if they caused an accident.
On January 30 last year, HCM City People's Court fined Chinese national Li Zhong Jun VND30 million (US$1,420) for causing a fatal accident in Cu Chi District.
On September 27, 2012, HCM City People's Court fined Norwegian Lars Hanssen VND30 million (US$1,420) for fatally injuring a woman on his motorbike after he had been drinking.
On January 19, 2011, the HCM City People's Court deported Russian national Makhov Vladimir for killing a vendor in a traffic accident in Mui Ne in the southern province of Binh Thuan.
In the latest case, an American man died and two Vietnamese were injured in an accident at the intersection of Dien Bien Phu and Dinh Tien Hoang streets in Da Kao Ward, District 1 in HCM City.
The American man, Fluery Formigoni, 24, was driving a motorbike at high speed when he collided with another bike driven by a local woman and a lottery vendor. Formigoni died at the scene.