Traffic safety expert Kong Ratanak said that permitting people under the age of 18 to drive a car is a serious violation of the road traffic law that can cause tragedies and a loss of resources for families and society.
The remarks were made after a car went off the road into a body of water on the afternoon of June 5, killing two people – a police officer and her younger brother – in Krabao commune of Prey Veng province’s Kamchay Mear district.
Kamchay Mear district police chief Khieu Sokhom identified the pair as 28-year-old officer Suong Sopheak and her 15-year-old bother Suong Visal, who was the driver – both were residents of Andong Sa’at village in Krabao commune.
“Suong Sopheak is a police officer and she was killed while on her way to do her duty maintaining order and security at polling station 0162. Her death means the loss of a good officer of the Krabao commune police and the loss of a wife and a mother and a daughter for her family,” he said.
He added that on the morning of June 6, leaders from the provincial administration and the armed forces based in the area attended her funeral and contributed money to the family. Sopheak left two children – a two-year-old son and a three-month-old daughter.
In their accident report the Kamchay Mear district police said that it may have been caused by factors related to the road and human error because at the point where the accident took place there were no cars, motorcycles or pedestrians to interfere.
However, the accident site is a red gravel road that curved and it is easy for a car to slide if the driver is careless and not aware of the danger.
The report said that the police could not confirm whether the 15-year-old driver had a driver’s license or went to a driving school. They only confirmed the identities of the two victims.
The villagers nearby the scene of the accident saw the car veer into the water and they rescued the victims out of the car and took them to the hospital but unfortunately they both died on the way there.
Traffic accident expert and consultant Kong Ratanak told The Post that under article 8 of the traffic road law only those who go to driving school and pass a driving test are legally allowed to drive a car and that they must be aged 18 and up for regular cars, 22 and up for 25 seat buses and 24 and up for large trucks.
“Permitting children under the age of 18 to drive a car in public places is a big mistake by parents and guardians. It causes tragedies for families and it also causes serious damage to the nation’s society,” he said.
He added that despite the law not stipulating punishments for youths under the age of 18, their parents and guardians are obliged to pay civil compensation to the victims of any accidents the underage person causes and pay fines to the state.
“Currently, accidents have declined compared to the last few years before the Covid-19 pandemic. But it remains a concern ... and law enforcement officers are still too lax in their duties,” Ratanak said.
According to the Public Order and Traffic Police Department’s statistics, road accidents nationwide on June 5 killed three people and injured seven others.