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Road safety a growing concern: NGOs

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A man walks past the site of a traffic accident in Phnom Penh last year.

A group of 13 Cambodian NGOs issued a joint statement on Monday expressing concern over a rise in deadly traffic accidents, particularly along National Road 4 connecting Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville.

The Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific said in a statement that accidents in Cambodia are most often caused by drunken driving, speeding, unsafe transportation of goods, unlicensed motorists, drivers falling asleep at the wheel and general carelessness.

The group suggested five steps the government could take to bring about a reduction in road accidents.

The recommendations included the installation of cameras along national roads to monitor speeding, sobriety checkpoints at toll booths along National Road 4 that would also distribute safety leaflets, a reduction in the shift schedules for transportation lorry drivers, multiple drivers for lorries and better monitoring of auto licences.  

The statement followed an accident on National Road 4 last week that left 19 dead and 8 severely injured when a lorry transporting steel collided with a minivan in Preah Sihanouk province’s Bit Trang commune.

Preap Chanvibol, director of the Land Transportation Department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said the department would meet with officials from the Ministry of Interior today to discuss strategies for reducing traffic accidents in the country.

He added that data from January to March shows 33 percent of traffic accidents were caused by carelessness, 30 percent by speeding and 15 percent by drunken driving.

In 2010, more than 1,600 people died from traffic accidents, down from 1,717 in 2009, according to government figures.

A recent study by Belgium NGO Handicap International showed that traffic accidents in 2009 cost Cambodia more than US$248 million.

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