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Traffic law almost at hand

05 traffic law
Three children without helmets ride a motorbike in Phnom Penh earlier this month. A new traffic law would levy more severe fines for lack of helmet use and make passenger helmets mandatory. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

The complete draft of a much-anticipated traffic law that will up fines and crack down on drunk driving is nearly finished, but it could take months before the statute goes into effect and new penalties are introduced, a legal advisor to the Council of Ministers said yesterday.

Speaking at a World Health Organization-led training session for journalists on traffic legislation at the Sunway Hotel, Noun Pharat, a member of the justice council, said the law still needs all of its relevant articles dealing with penalties for violations.

 Pharat said 90 per cent had already been completed, after which it will be sent to the National Assembly to be voted on.

Road-safety advocates have been pushing for the new law’s passage, saying it could save hundreds of lives. On average, five people die every day from road safety accidents, and hundreds of millions are lost every year in associated crash costs.

“We want the new law passed, the sooner the better,” said Steve Iddings, team leader for road safety and injury prevention for WHO in Cambodia.

The revised law is an amended version of an existing one, and broadens the scope significantly. Those who have seen drafts say it increases fines for speeding and drunk driving, which account for the majority of accidents.

Fines would also target the lack of helmet use by levying more severe fines, and make it mandatory for passengers on motorbikes to don a helmet. According to the most recent statistics from the National Road Safety Committee, motorbike riders account for 66 per cent of the total number of road fatalities, and more than two-thirds of those involved severe head injuries.

Traffic accidents are the second leading cause of death in the country, and in the wake of a slew of headline-making crashes, Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on government ministries to reduce the problem.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said at the training that police and judges should take a tough stance on accidents that make their way to court, even if the victim has been compensated in an informal settlement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Joe Freeman at joseph.freeman@phnompenhpost.com and Khoun Leakhana at leakhana.khoun@phnompenhpost.com
Follow Joe Freeman on twitter at: @joefree215

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