Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - City police seize motorbikes.

City police seize motorbikes.

City police seize motorbikes.

If they want to teach them about the law, they can teach them where they are fined.

TRAFFIC police in the capital have resumed seizing the motorbikes of helmetless drivers and those who lack side mirrors, despite the fact that the Land Traffic Law does not list vehicle confiscation as a possible punishment for such offences.

Heng Chantheary, head of the Phnom Penh Traffic Police, said he did not know when the recent crackdown began, but that confiscations had been occurring periodically since August 2009.

The Post has received multiple reports of motorbikes being confiscated en masse at various checkpoints in the past week.

“This has not happened for a long time,” Heng Chantheary said in reference to the confiscations.

“For drivers who break traffic laws, such as having no helmet and driving in the wrong direction, we take their motos to the land traffic office, where the owners must learn the traffic laws before they can get their vehicles back,” he said, although he could not provide figures detailing how many vehicles had been confiscated in recent weeks.

He said drivers who wish to get their motorbikes back must pay all relevant fines.

Under the Land Traffic Law, motorbike drivers caught without helmets must pay fines of 3,000 riels (US$0.71), and those caught without mirrors face fines of 4,000 riels.

Sann Socheata, a road safety programme manager for the Cambodian branch of Handicap International Belgium, said there was no mention in the Land Traffic Law of confiscations related to either transgression.

“Motorbike confiscation is not mentioned in the traffic law,” she said.

She noted, though, that Prime Minister Hun Sen has occasionally suggested that traffic police confiscate the motorbikes of offending drivers.

She went on to say that she did not oppose the measure, and that it would give drivers more incentive to obey the law.

But she said authorities should also spend time making sure drivers know exactly what the law stipulates.

“I think what we should spend time doing is convincing people to respect the traffic law,” she said. “Then there won’t be any confiscation

Kong Chhorn, a 36-year-old motorbike driver, said yesterday that he was less concerned about the confiscation of motorbikes than he was about the seemingly erratic application of fines.

“I was once asked for 5,000 riels for not wearing my helmet belt,” he said. “Some police even use offensive words when they are talking to me. They should use good words to educate people about the traffic law.”

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport in June finalised amendments to the Land Traffic Law that would increase fines and require passengers on motorbikes to wear helmets.

If the amendments, which have not yet been sent to the Council of Ministers, are eventually approved, helmetless motorbike drivers will be required to pay fines of 21,000 riels (about $5).