The government and NGOs hope to reduce traffic deaths by selling
students across Phnom Penh cheap skid lids ahead of the implementation
of a helmet law
Students at Bac Touk High School in Phnom Penh admire their new helmets on Tuesday.
AHEAD of the implementation of a new helmet law in 2009, the government has kicked off a campaign in Phnom Penh high schools to encourage young people to wear crash helmets in a bid to reduce the number of head injuries suffered in road accidents.
The campaign, which began Tuesday, is run by the National Road Safety Committee at the Ministry of Public Works and sponsored by international NGOs, including Handicap International. It will provide subsidised helmets to students at four high schools across the capital.
According to Meas Chandy, a road safety program officer at Handicap International, Bac Touk High School was the first school targeted, with 500 helmets being sold to students in grades 10 through 12.
Each class monitor will be given a helmet for free, and regular students will be able to buy them for US$5, half of the market price, he said.
Low safety awareness
Mao Vichhika, a member of the government committee told the Post Tuesday that despite recent government campaigns, people's road safety awareness was still frighteningly low.
"Throughout the country, 97 percent of population do not wear helmets when driving motorbikes," he said.
He added that the program that hopes to wake up more drivers to the reality of road danger. "Eighty percent of fatalities in traffic accidents relate to injuries to the head. So we want to reduce this number," he said.
From Bac Touk High School, the campaign will travel to Yuk Kunthor, Santhor Mok and Wat Koh high schools.
Kheng Sovann Sak, a student at Bac Touk, said that she had been driving a motorcycle for three years but only began wearing a helmet in the last year when she found out road traffic casualties were increasing.
"It's good to keep our heads safe. I do not want to lose my memories," she said.
According to figures from the Cambodia Road Traffic Accident and Victim Information System (RTAVIS), from 2001 to 2007 the number of traffic accidents increased by 120 percent and the number of fatalities tripled. Most motorcycle casualties in Cambodia are a direct result of not wearing a helmet, the group said.