There’s a lot going on this weekend for us young folks, and inevitably we might be at the receiving end of an ice-cold pitcher of beer.
But have we stopped for a minute to think about our safety?
Over the past few years, youth alcohol consumption in the Kingdom has spiked drastically. Some liquor stores and bars, big and small, have become famous throughout Phnom Penh and the number of billboards and commercials advertising drinking are at an all-time high here in Cambodia.
Young Cambodians are undeniably taking notice of these trends and advertising campaigns. The sound of knocking glasses blends in with the city noise as young adults dot the street line at outside bars and beer gardens.
According to a study conducted by the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, in which 1,400 people were surveyed across seven provinces, 58 per cent between ages 15 and 25 said they drank alcohol every-day.
And in another survey conducted by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, in co-operation with other NGOs, over 2,400 subjects from ages 10 to 24 showed that 70 per cent of girls said had consumed alcohol while 91 per cent of boys had consumed alcohol.
With these eye-opening facts comes the problem of drink-driving and night-time accidents.
According to Handicap International, half of traffic accidents occurring in Cambodia occur after 5pm – 18 per cent of which can be attributed to drink-driving.
“Drink-driving is a big problem. People aged 15 to 29, accounting for some 50 per cent of accidents, are involved with drink-driving,” said Jeroen Stol, country director of Handicap International.
“The driver has a responsibility not to drink and drive. Taking a tuk tuk is always an alternative option, as is asking someone sober for help driving.”
Although the number of accidents decreased in 2011, the number of fatalities went up.
A lot of young Cambodians will avoid going back home to sleep after a nigh of drinking to avoid facing their parents, so they’ll stay out later instead. This can lead to more drinking, in turn leading to more reckless booze-fuelled behaviour.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, told LIFT that “youth who consume alcohol lose control, so they can face problems such as rape and become susceptible to pregnancy or even HIV infection”.
Yong Kim Eng added that there should be measures taken to raise awareness of the negative effects of alcohol consumption to reduce the dangers associated with binge drinking.
“There should be a restriction in the availability of alcohol on the market by increasing the cost, and the government should put a policy in place to deal with drink-driving,” he said.
Binge drinking carries other risks too, including adverse health effects and the hefty sum of money it takes to fund the habit.
If you find yourself drunk and behind the wheel, remember to take care of yourself and put safety first – don’t drive.