In yet another tragic road accident in Phnom Penh, a young man lost both his wife and 2-year-old child. The collision occurred at midnight on Sisowath Quay in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune, as a Hummer SUV crashed into a motorcycle carrying the family of three.

Krouch Samith, 20, a resident of Dey Thuy village in Prey Veng province, and her toddler son were instantly killed while her husband was critically injured and rushed to Calmette Hospital for intensive care. 

Compounding the tragedy, the incident remained unresolved for several days. It was only on December 29 that the driver of the Hummer, who had initially fled the scene, surrendered to the police, admitting his involvement in the unfortunate event.

Veasna Srey Roth, a relative of the couple in the accident, told The Post that since December 25, the man had been in critical condition and remained unconscious.

“He can move his legs a bit, but his mother-in-law is profoundly saddened by the loss of her daughter,” she said.

She mentioned that her cousin’s father is experiencing a decline in mental health, leading to occasional confusion. Relatives are rallying around the man’s parents, urging them to hold onto hope and avoid succumbing to despair.

In a separate accident in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on December 14, a Jeep Overland, reportedly driven by the son of a lawyer, struck and fatally injured Lee Kimhong, a well-known national-level badminton player. 

Despite the accused’s family offering $1,000 to settle the case, the victim’s family rejected the compensation, opting for justice. 

Responding to public pressure, the Jeep driver, 23-year-old Prohm Vichethsosakada, surrendered on December 27. He faced charges for the fatal accident and was being held at Police Judiciaire, commonly known as PJ prison, awaiting trial.

Kim Pagna, director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, notes that daily road accidents lead to injuries and fatalities, evoking varying public reactions.

He states his appreciation for those who participate and advocate through social media for justice in specific cases. 

“I appreciate those who actively engage and urge others to seek justice for victims in particular cases,” he says.

“Their contributions play a crucial role in raising awareness and promoting fair law enforcement to reduce traffic accidents in Cambodia,” Panha says.

The 2019 UN Development Programme (UNDP) report on “Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) in Cambodia” details the substantial human and economic impacts of RTAs. Findings reveal an average of 5.4 deaths per day from RTAs, resulting in an annual cost of $466.8 million, equivalent to 1.7 per cent of the GDP.

Primary causes of fatalities include alcohol/drug use, speeding, disregard for traffic rules and phone use while driving. 

RTAs tend to peak on weekends, often involving young individuals who neglect safety measures. Additional factors, such as road conditions and a lack of prompt first aid, contribute to fatality rates. 

“Policy recommendations focus on behavioural change, road safety education and enforcement to decrease fatalities and economic losses,” the report states.

Offenders typically require explicit direction from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior before surrendering willingly.

In a December 21st speech, Prime Minister Hun Manet instructed the National Police to promptly detain suspects in traffic accidents. He advocated for decisive action, even without waiting for higher-level directives and endorsed the use of handcuffs when necessary.

Manet assured the police of his support, promising promotions for effective law enforcement and cautioning against relying solely on social media to instigate actions.

This directive came in response to delayed arrests in fatal accidents, exemplified by the recent incident involving the Jeep Overland driver.

Stricter traffic law enforcement needed

Minister of Interior Sar Sokha has made significant remarks concerning road safety and legal accountability. 

Citing a December 25 statement by his predecessor Sar Kheng, now a lawmaker for Battambang province, during the 18th International Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Sokha noted that endorsing support for drivers involved in fatal accidents and settling issues outside the legal framework is neither recommended nor endorsed.

“I’ve observed a worrying trend where people in accidents often attempt to flee, especially when their vehicles are still functional. It’s essential to take responsibility aligned with the law, even if there are potential security risks for those involved waiting for the situation to be resolved,” Sokha said.

In a critique aimed at the chief of the Phnom Penh Traffic Bureau, Sokha stated concern about the assertion that no accidents occurred during an event lasting several hours. His statement raises questions about the vigilance and awareness within the traffic bureau.

“After the sombre statistics of the past two weeks, with 69 lives lost and 248 people injured on our roads, it is vital to recognise that legal accountability is not optional – it is absolutely non-negotiable,” Sokha said.

Panha states that the government’s commitment during its seventh mandate to rigorously enforce the law, combined with public participation, significantly influences positive decisions from leadership.

He urges the public to actively share opinions and suggestions for fortifying and enforcing additional traffic laws, with the ultimate goal of improving law enforcement and decreasing traffic accidents.

“Enforcing laws on the road proves more practical during actual driving, as educating, reaching out and training are time-consuming and less effective for adults already driving,” Panha explains. 

“This approach should be targeted at students and individuals from a young age,” he adds.

Panha has observed the enforcement of traffic laws, highlighting notable reforms since 2016 by the government. 

Consequently, there has been a substantial reduction in traffic accident-related deaths, decreasing from 2,231 in 2015 to 1,752 in 2016 after the implementation of a new traffic law.

“We’re anticipating potential enhancements to traffic laws in 2024,” he says.

“With a focus on strengthening law enforcement, I anticipate a further reduction in accidents compared to previous years,” he adds.

Complete change after fatality occurs

Srey Roth explains that the family is facing significant challenges, primarily due to the loss of income from the eldest son’s occupation as a garbage collector. 

“Family members face challenges covering the extra expenses incurred when using a National Social Security Fund (NSSF) card, which is beyond their financial means. The deceased wife worked in a factory,” she says.

In 2011, a study conducted by Matthew Ericson at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, titled “How Road Traffic Injuries Affect Household Welfare in Cambodia Using the Millennium Development Goals Benchmarks,” primarily revealed a 21 per cent decline in income in households affected by road traffic injuries. This notably impacted the poorest individuals and those with severe injuries. 

“Beyond the economic impact, the study reveals heightened school drop-out rates, expanded gender income gaps with increased care giving responsibilities for women, declines in child and maternal health and elevated disease rates post-accidents,” the study notes.

Environmental concerns and insufficient community support for accident survivors were also outlined.

Panha states that the riskiest driver behaviour frequently happens at night, potentially attributed to quieter roads, alcohol consumption resulting in higher speeds and reckless driving.

He observes a deficiency in investigations into traffic accidents where perpetrators were released without legal consequences, citing instances where offenders evade responsibility.

Panha acknowledges the government’s initiatives to reinforce traffic regulations, especially for government officials involved in accidents, promoting accountability and cautious driving.

“People behind the wheel must not rely on their social standing to evade consequences for causing accidents, injuries and fatalities on the road,” he shares with The Post.

Panha refers to a 2008 study carried out in the Muk Kampul district of Kandal province, underscoring the significant challenges faced by families of traffic accident victims, especially when the deceased was the primary income earner.

“If it impacts the breadwinners, the family may slip into poverty. Children end up leaving school to work or care for a disabled family member. Yet, this ripple effect extends to other relatives too,” he says.


Panha recognises the lack of inquiry into accidents where perpetrators were let go without facing legal consequences. He also notes instances where individuals evaded legal and moral responsibility.

To bolster law enforcement, Panha suggests engaging not only competent officials but also private institutions and educational establishments. He said that this can be achieved by promoting and enhancing the implementation of internal regulations and traffic law policies.

“We can tackle this issue by emphasising the significance of wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. The adherence among students to wearing helmets remains high, highlighting the necessity for ongoing efforts and regulations,” he says.

While night-time alcohol consumption isn’t excessively high, all accidents carry severe consequences. 

Sokha notes there are seven local breweries for about 16 million people, excluding imported products and brands. Consequently, he says that drinking and driving pose increased risks in a country like Cambodia. 

Sokha urges the youth, especially those in the armed forces, to be role models for the next generation by refraining from alcohol while driving.