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Road rules discussed

OFFICIALS and civil society groups met Thursday to discuss proposed changes to 13 articles of the Land Traffic Law – including regulations on helmets, speeding and licences – and the development of a 10-year road safety plan to lower traffic fatalities.

A document obtained at the meeting outlines the 13 proposed changes, including increases in fines for motorbike drivers who fail to wear helmets, as well as for car drivers who fail to wear seatbelts. If the proposed changes are approved, the fines for both infractions will be significantly higher – helmet fines will rise from 3,000 riels to 21,000 riels (about US$5), while seatbelt fines will rise from 5,000 riels to 35,000 riels.

Preap Chanvibol, director of the Land Transport Department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, noted that the changes were still being debated. “This is just a proposal, and we require more meetings to finalise this. This could be reduced a little bit,” he said.

Looking ahead, Public Works and Transport Minister Tram Iv Toek, who is head of the National Road Safety Commission, said stricter enforcement of the helmet regulation, introduced for motorbike drivers in January 2009, would be critical to meeting the goal set by
ASEAN to reduce traffic fatalities to a rate of seven per 100,000 inhabitants by 2010.

There were 12.6 road fatalities per 100,000 Cambodians last year, up from 12.2 per 100,000 in 2008, according to NRSC figures.

“The traffic police must enforce helmet-wearing to all people, especially youth,” he said. Citing NRSC data, he said that 72 percent of motorbike drivers wear helmets during the day, but that only 46 percent do so at night.

“We want to see 100 percent of people wearing helmets, like in Vietnam,” he said.

He added that the Finance Ministry’s allocation of 250,000,000 riels (around $59,950) towards road-safety initiatives for 2010 was insufficient and called for more financial support.

Thursday’s meeting came two days after the UN announced a Decade of Action for Road Safety, a campaign designed to stem the reported global rise in road deaths.

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