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Road deaths still on rise

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A motorbike is partially lodged under the front section of a truck following an accident on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The rate of fatalities attributed to traffic accidents in the Kingdom has far outstripped the growth in population over the past six years, government officials said yesterday, calling for a raft of preventative measures.

Traffic accidents killed more than five people every day and injured an average of 40 per day in 2011, costing Cambodia more than $310 million, according to data released yesterday at a workshop in Phnom Penh.

Road Crash and Victim Information System (RCVIS) figures show that 1,905 people were killed and 5,807 injured in traffic accidents last year – a five per cent increase from 2010.

Ninety six per cent of fatalities were due to head injuries, underscoring the need for passengers, as well as drivers, to wear helmets, said Chhoun Voun, the National Road Safety Committee’s chief of road safety and statistics.

From 2005 to 2011, the number of traffic fatalities doubled, he said, noting that while the population grew by 10 per cent in that time, the number of vehicles increased by 231 per cent.

Voun warned that “if there are no preventive measures, the number of deaths will increase to 3,200 in 2020.”

An amendment to the 2007 traffic law, which would require moto passengers to also wear helmets, is awaiting confirmation by the Council of Ministers, he said.

Although Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Tauch Chankosal said Cambodia has taken several measures to promote traffic safety, such as improving the national roads, Handicap International country director Teoren Stol said that “significant further investments in the road safety sector are needed to slow the economic loss due to traffic accidents.”

According to Handicap International’s figures, the costs – such as care for victims and property damage – associated with accidents in 2011 increased by 11 per cent from 2010

The organisation’s admonitions echoed a statement from the World Health Organisation’s Western Pacific region committee on Wednesday that “as the number of motorcycles and cars increases, the risk to motorcycle and car riders and passengers, pedestrians and cyclists increases disproportionately.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at channyda.chhay@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from: Justine Drennan

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