Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - AIP helps to educate road users



AIP helps to educate road users

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
AIP visits schools in the community to teach about road safety. Photo supplied

AIP helps to educate road users

When Greig Craft first arrived in Vietnam in 1989, he saw a country on the cusp of enormous change and a place where, as the standard of living and the use of motorised vehicles increased, young people were dying and suffering severe injuries on the roads every day.

Horrified by what he saw, he studied the situation intensively and realised that he had an opportunity to truly make a difference. In 1999, he established the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP) to address the crisis on Vietnam’s roads.

AIP is an NGO dedicated to decreasing road casualties in low- and middle-income countries by providing safety interventions for motorists.

As a country undergoing a similar change, Cambodia now faces the same dilemma. Preventable road accidents kill far too many people each year.

AIP started operating in Cambodia in 2006. In 2011, it registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and opened a local office.

Im Piseth, AIP’s programme manager, tells The Post that before the NGO had an office, it would operate through other entities, including other NGOs and businesses.

Over several years, the NGO built strong relationships with public and private institutes in Cambodia.

“Through the years, we have worked with governments, corporations, foundations, and others to implement life-saving interventions and protect those most vulnerable to road crashes and their consequences.

“We work closely with the ministries of Interior; Public Works and Transport; Education, Youth and Sport, the coalition for road safety and Manulife insurance to let them carry out the work for us,” Piseth says.

Fixing human errors

Piseth stresses that most injuries could be prevented by obeying traffic laws.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Im Piseth (right), AIP’s programme manager, says most road injuries are preventable. Photo supplied

“Since 2006, our goal has been to enhance the practice of traffic laws as well as educate all drivers on road safety,” he says Piseth says many road accidents in Cambodia result from human error.

“According to the 2019 statistics of the National Road Safety Committee, it’s divided into human factors, vehicles [not properly inspected], infrastructure and weather.

“But the biggest factor is the human one, which is divided into many risky driving practices. Speeding is the number one cause, which led to 38 per cent [of road accidents].

“Not respecting the right of way on roads caused 23 per cent of accidents, overtaking dangerously (nine per cent), turning illegally (nine per cent), drunk driving (five per cent), vehicle problems (two per cent), and fatigue (one per cent),” he says.

With the cooperation of the authorities and Open Development Cambodia, an NGO which shares useful data with the public, AIP has implemented policies and distributed helmets to motorcyclists throughout the Kingdom.

Protecting factory workers and farmers

AIP has visited factories, communities in the countryside, schools, universities and stops along national roads.

“According to statistics, farmers are the most vulnerable victims. Second are factory workers and third, university students,” says Piseth.

Having worked at AIP for almost 10 years, he says the reason farmers have been involved in so many accidents is that many of them don’t know the traffic laws.

They usually travel on the trails in their small villages and when they reach the main road, they do not look behind or in front of them before they turn, and this frequently causes accidents.

Factory workers frequently ride in unsafe and overloaded vehicles and their factories are typically located near increasingly busy national roads.

“Hence, we recently started to visit our target factories where an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 workers are directly employed in the garment and footwear sector. We’ve been able to reach about 200,000 workers.

“We’ve been thinking of how to help them improve their riding. We hope to do something about the trucks they’ve been using, which are not safe at all. If they can make them more comfortable for the workers, that would play a big part in reducing accidents.

“It would be especially nice to have a proper seat, a roof and something to protect them so they can ride comfortably in the vehicle. Moreover, we can put traffic signs around factory areas to help them to be more cautious,” Piseth says.

AIP, he says, has handed out educational materials on road safety to universities and at stops along national roads 1, 4 and 6.

“We’ve been promoting the use of helmets and road safety [to drivers] while they stopped at traffic lights with help from police officials and youth volunteers. They helped us hand out leaflets and stickers instructing about the traffic law.”

AIP has selected 20 to 30 students from different universities to help with the programme. The students are first brought up to speed on traffic laws before being tasked with educating people at their universities and communities.

“We always follow up to see how well people have comprehended [our teachings] and put them into practice by appointing members to conduct a census in each community we’ve reached out to,” he says.

Spreading the word

He says the programme has gained wide support and people have expressed interest in joining.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
AIP workers and volunteers hand out leaflets to motorists at traffic lights. Photo supplied

“However, we also have faced some challenges. We haven’t been able to meet with everyone we were supposed to meet. Mostly, the elders are often forgetful. Others, especially the youths, are at work.

“Despite this, we still go into their workplaces or downtown to educate them,” Piseth says.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, AIP has also taught about virus prevention methods.

Piseth says his and AIP’s vision is to see all Cambodians strictly following traffic laws in the future, similar to what is seen in more developed countries.

“In the hope of reducing road accidents in the nation, we need the cooperation of all citizens. We hope our people continue to stick to the law and forgive each other on the road. I can see how forgivable they are when they happen to bump into one another, but we are not satisfied.

“We want them to discipline themselves, strictly obey traffic laws in the country and respect each other to prevent road accidents,” Piseth says.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’