Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Law passed to tackle road toll



Law passed to tackle road toll

Under new laws
Under new laws, moto riders have been banned from carrying more than one adult passenger and all must wear a helmet. Hong Menea

Law passed to tackle road toll

New limit of two adults, one child per moto; helmets now mandatory for passengers

After four days of debate, the National Assembly yesterday passed a sweeping new traffic law that for the first time will require motorbike passengers to wear helmets and limit the number of passengers.

Road safety advocates hope the new law, which replaces one passed in late 2006 and carries stiffer penalties for most offences, will help tackle the Kingdom’s road death toll of an average of six fatalities a day, though questions remain about how well it will be enforced.

The 92-article law stipulates mandatory helmet use for all motorbike passengers, including all children above the age of three. Under the current law, only drivers are required to wear helmets.

The new law also aims to tackle the endemic problem of overloaded motorbikes, with a maximum of two adults and one child to be allowed to ride at any one time.

Drunk drivers are also being targeted. Those caught with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.08 per cent will face a hefty minimum fine of $200, up from just $6.25 under the current law. They could also be sentenced to between one and six months in prison if convicted.

Transport Minister Tram Iv Tek said the new law also requires all car passengers to wear seat belts in rural areas – because of the risk posed by speeding on the open roads – but not in the city.

“We see that 90 per cent of those in the front seat wear seat belts, but when there is a traffic accident, the passengers in the back seat get killed because they don’t wear seat belts,” he told the parliament yesterday.

The minister also said that it would take some three to six months after the law is approved by the King – it still needs to be rubber-stamped by the Senate – to adequately inform Cambodians about the new restrictions.

Until then, it won’t be enforced.
But while the law may be tough, how well it is upheld by traffic police will determine its effect on improving road safety, advocates say.

“In terms of the law, there is a lot of improvement, which is a good thing,” said independent road safety consultant Ear Chakriya, citing, in particular, mandatory helmet use, given that 70 per cent of all road deaths result from head injuries.

“But more important is how are they going to implement [it].”

While the existing law may have some “big gaps”, it does already have a number of strong provisions, but these are poorly enforced, he said.

What could help under the new law, Chakriya added, is that the chairman of the National Road Safety Committee will now come from the Ministry of Interior instead of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

The MOI is directly in charge of police and will hopefully be able to better influence the enforcement of traffic rules, he said.

The World Health Organization, which works with the government on road safety, praised the long-awaited law’s passing but also cautioned that its enforcement would be crucial.

“We know from years of work and from data collected independently that, while the law and public awareness are very necessary components, routine police enforcement is essential to ensure individual behaviour change,” WHO environmental engineer Steven Iddings said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.