Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has expressed concern over the rate of traffic accidents, saying the death toll will double by 2020 if no effective preventive measures were put in place. At least five people on average are killed on Cambodian roads every day.
The interior minister was speaking at the annual road safety meeting at the ministry on Friday.
Sar Kheng, who is chairman of the Road Safety Committee, stressed that the high rate of traffic accidents was the issue of most concern for Cambodians and that it required all relevant parties to implement effective preventive measures in order to ensure public safety.
“In Cambodia, according to the estimates of road safety experts, if there are no effective preventive measures brought in, the death toll from road accidents will climb to 3,200 a year by 2020. So we need to prevent such a situation in order to save the lives of Cambodians,” he said.
According to official statistics from the Traffic and Public Order Department at the National Police, at least 1,761 people were killed and 4,770 injured in road accidents last year.
Based on these figures, at least five people died every day on the roads. The provinces with the highest death tolls were Preah Sihanouk, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Phnom Penh.
At the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said that based on a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, road accidents are ninth on the list of accidental deaths, claiming the lives of around 1,250,000 people every year and injuring 50 million.
They cost the global economy billions of dollars annually.
Sar Kheng encouraged the rail and maritime transport sectors to take the burden off the Kingdom’s roads while urging all ministries and the institutions in charge of their construction to build roads to a high standard to cope with the increase in vehicles and ensure the number of accidents was kept to a minimum.
He said that effective instruction as to road safety was also necessary, suggesting officers in the armed forces educate their subordinates, teachers do so with their students and employers train their staff on the traffic law.
He appealed to motorcyclists to wear helmets properly and vehicle drivers to be extra cautious to minimise road accidents.
Ear Chariya, a senior official at the Road Safety Institute, could not be reached for comment on Sunday, but Nou Vattanak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told The Post that it is currently developing dual carriageway roads with two lanes in each direction separated by a central reservation in order to cut down on congestion and road accidents.
He said the ministry is studying the expressway projects from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk province to help reduce congestion and road accidents, while National Road 4 is being widened to become a four-lane highway with a high standard of safety measures installed, as are other main national roads.
“The ministry is putting in efforts to install high-standard road safety equipment [including surveillance cameras, traffic lights and signage, and road markings] in order to reduce road accidents by 50 per cent by 2020 and tackle congestion."
“We need time and the participation of all involved parties in respecting the traffic laws and not travelling in overloaded vehicles,” Vattanak said.
Kong Sovann, a technical adviser at the Ministry of Rural Development, told The Post on Sunday that over the past few years, the relevant ministries and institutions, including civil society organisations, have joined in efforts to improve the situation on the roads.
However, he said that most people had not changed their negative behaviour with law enforcement remaining limited.
“To be successful in reducing road accidents, together we all have to obey the law and change our behaviour and eliminate poor driving habits."
“Law enforcement bodies also need to fulfil their duties and obligations properly by issuing fines and punishing those who cause road accidents according to the law with transparency and ethics and without exception,” he said.