Lunar New Year celebrations ended in the capital Tuesday with 14
serious traffic accidents including six fatalities, which officials
blame on bad driving.
Photo by: Sovann Philong
Traditional dragon dancers celebrate Chinese New Year on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
ALTHOUGH Lunar New Year was celebrated this year in Phnom Penh with relatively muted enthusiasm, government officials have expressed concern over a startling rise in traffic accidents, including six fatalities, over the festival's two main holidays.
"There were five people who died, six who were seriously injured and seven who received relatively small injuries on the 25th alone," Pen Khun, deputy director of the Traffic Police, told the Post Tuesday.
"And there was one death, eight serious injuries and one small injury on the 26th," he added.
Pen Khun said the number of accidents - 14 in total - were markedly higher than those recorded during last year's celebrations, and were mostly a result of drunk driving.
"I think accidents during Chinese New Year this year increased from last year because the first day we had many people die," he said.
"Most of them died because they were drunk and drove very fast and carelessly," he added.
Although he claimed the government was trying its best to enforce traffic laws with the introduction of a helmet law this year, he said little could be done if people refused to adhere to road safety.
"There are four main factors that contribute to traffic accidents: people, roads, vehicles and weather," he said. "The worst factor for our country is people. They don't respect traffic laws," he said.
Accidents up from December
According to statistics from the Land Traffic Office, the number of traffic accidents in the capital so far this month has increased compared with December last year. So far, 69 accidents have been recorded in Phnom Penh this month, breaking down to 20 deaths, 56 serious injuries and 46 small injuries. In December, there were only 61 accidents.
According to an interim report by the Ministry of Interior last month, the number of fatalities from traffic accidents in 2008 was up from the previous year.
"Traffic accidents will not decrease if drivers coninue to disrespect the traffic law. They think that it is their right to drive as fast or as slow as they want because it is a public road, a road for everybody. They think it's up to them," Pen Khun said.