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Govt warns of rising traffic deaths

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P'Chum Ben festivities could drive up number of accidents

TRACEY SHELTON

An accident on Phnom Penh’s Norodom Boulevard last week. The Ministry of Transport has said it will start fining drivers who break road rules in a bid to reduce accidents, especially over festive periods.

THE Ministry of Transportation reiterated a warning to motorists on Sunday, saying drivers during P'Chum Ben should adhere to traffic laws or risk death.

"Violating traffic laws will not only bring serious injury or death to yourself, but will also put others in serious danger," said Ung Chunhour, general director of the Department of Transportation.

He said that increased traffic levels would also affect the safety of the roads during the busy P'Chum Ben holiday.

"We currently have 750,000 motorbikes and 205,000 cars and trucks travelling on the roads," Ung Chunhour said.

In a bid to reduce traffic jams and traffic accidents, the Ministry of Transport will fine motorists for moving violations.

"Next month, we will begin to fine drivers who overload, overtake and drunken drive," Ung Chunhour said.

But Teng Sothy, a taxi driver who drives the Phnom Penh-Kampong Thom route, said road accidents and casualties on the roads are caused by the narrow streets, traffic jams and traffic police not adhering to their duties.

He said that he and other taxi drivers tried not to overload, but felt sorry for poor people asking to travel home to meet their families for the festival.

"We know that the traffic laws do not allow overloading, but our passengers are desperate," Teng Sothy said. "They say that if they had enough money they would not sit on the roof of a van like that, but they have no choice."

Accidents may double

Meas Chandy, an official at Handicap International Belgium, said that if road users are careless, traffic accidents and casualties on the roads could double this year, especially during the P'Chum Ben festival period.

"We are now more worried about traffic accidents and casualties on the road than HIV/Aids," he said.

He said that Road Traffic Accident and Victim Information System (RTAVIS) showed that during the weeklong period of P'Chum Ben last year, 48 people died and 889 others were injured in road accidents across the Kingdom.

He called for the traffic police to crack down on road users who violated the traffic laws to reduce the number of traffic accidents and casualties in Cambodia.

Tin Prosoaur, Phnom Penh's chief of traffic police, said that during P'Chum Ben there have been 700 traffic police deployed on busy roads to help with congestion.

"Accidents will decrease during this period if road users obey traffic laws and drive safely," Tin Prosoaur said. 

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