Traffic jams, accidents and disregard for road rules are still issues to be solved in the Kingdom, especially in Phnom Penh. By law, passengers are required to wear helmets and drive motorbikes with rear-view mirrors. However, a number of people don’t actually abide by this – especially young Cambodians.
Panha, 25-years-old, has never worn a helmet while driving her motorbike. He said she chooses to drive carefully, instead. “I know that a helmet can protect my head in case of an accident,” he said.
“However, I just go somewhere near or around the city, and there are no police on the roads I drive either.”
During rush hour, you’ll see police nabbing on the road every-day. Although most passengers are abiding by the law, they are still scared they’ll be fined by police.
Seng Kongkea, 30-years-old, said that he was afraid of police hiding behind trees to nab drivers. He said that it isn’t about practising the law, but just a way to make money.
One policeman who works on Russian Boulevard, who chose to remain unnamed, said that some 90 percent of travellers – from his observations – wear helmets and drive with rear-view mirrors. The problem is just with a few drivers who don’t stop at the traffic light.
“Some passengers do not respect the law but they are frightened of the police,” the officer said. “So officers have to give out violations.”
To educate the passengers about traffic accidents, youth and volunteer groups are banding together to raise awareness.
Jeroen Stoel, country director of Handicap International, said that traffic in Phnom Penh is getting more congested every-day. The infrastructure cannot accommodate the traffic flow.
“Too many different types of vehicles are using the same road. They drive at different speeds, making the situation dangerous. “The police should do their work strictly and fine people who really disobey the rules. It is the responsibility of the drivers to be safe. If they obey the traffic rules, I don’t think police will nab you,” he said.
Cambodia lost US$279 million on road traffic accidents in 2010, according to the official from the ministry of Public Works and Transports.
According to a recent report on road traffic accidents, in 2010 there were 6,941 road accidents, which killed 1,816 people and injured 6,718 others.
In 2011, the number of accidents has decreased, but the number of fatalities has been on the rise.
Chev Hak, Municipal Traffic Police Official, said that traffic police have been trying their best to reduce accidents and facilitate safe travel. Therefore, there are always police stationed at stop-lights.
“Our police advise and educate citizens about the law when they are fined, in order to make them understand the mistake that was made,” he said.
“For those police who do not abide by the law, fining without an invoice or overcharging for a violation, they will ultimately have to be responsible for their actions.”