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Input floated on traffic law

A policeman directs traffic in Phnom Penh earlier this year
A policeman directs traffic in Phnom Penh earlier this year. A new draft traffic law is aimed at increasing road safety and reducing traffic-related fatalities. Vireak Mai

Input floated on traffic law

A coalition of NGOs are to submit to the National Assembly today a list of recommended additions to the amended traffic law, a draft of which was approved by the Council of Ministers in August.

Road safety advocates hope the amended law, which creates higher fines for drunken driving and mandates that passengers on motorbikes wear helmets, among other measures, will help lower the rate of deaths from traffic accidents from an average of five a day.

Chea Sundaneth, executive director of the Women’s Media Center of Cambodia, which, sponsored by the Global Road Safety Partnership, took park in the discussion at the Royal University of Phnom Penh yesterday, said that the law as drafted cannot adequately address the crisis, and warned that the average number of daily fatalities will increase to eight people per day by 2020 if nothing is done.

“We gathered to get new ideas and recommendations to add to the draft law at the National Assembly,” she said, urging for quick passage of the law with the added items.

The coalition’s recommendations include creating working groups to inspect road conditions, especially areas where accidents are rife; introducing plans to crack down on drunken driving and enforce helmet use and speed limits at the local level; increasing education and funding; strengthening driving school education; and bettering the post-crash emergency response and rehabilitation options for victims.

However, Chan Dara, the director general of the public works and transport department within the ministry of the same name, said the law is missing no points, and has been rigorously checked and reviewed. He said, however, that a law alone will not solve the problem.

“We together will make the laws effective”, Dara said.

Kong Sovann, country manager for the Global Road Safety Partnership, said the draft is an improvement on the old law. Most importantly, it creates both harsher penalties for violations and raises fines.

The debate won’t affect Cambodia’s funding from the Global Road Safety Parternship, which comes from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Last week, the World Health Organization, which manages the 2010 to 2015 grant of $125 million, said it would not be renewed again for Cambodia.

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