The Road Safety Network and civil society organisations on Friday issued a joint statement appealing for effective measures to curb traffic accidents during Chinese New Year and other national holidays.
The statement said the death toll is worryingly high during holidays such as Cambodian New Year, Chinese New Year, Pchum Ben and the Water Festival.
It said road accident fatalities during the four festivals, which averaged between six and 11 deaths per day, accounted for about 10 per cent of Cambodia’s annual deaths on the road.
In order to find a solution to the road safety issue, particularly during this year’s Chinese New Year and other notable festivals, the organisations called on the government and relevant institutions to try all options at their disposal.
“We appeal to the Royal Government and sub-national level [authorities]. Please establish more educational programmes and [promote road safety] widely via all media and in local communities during and after Chinese New Year and other national festivals,” the statement read.
It appealed to civil society organisations and other private companies to create road safety policies for staff at workplaces throughout the country.
“The joint statement was made because it is clear traffic accidents remain a pressing issue in Cambodia. We have noticed that road accidents increase dramatically during holidays."
“Nine more people died on the roads during the 2018 Chinese New Year than during the 2017 holiday. The death toll also increased during other festivals."
“Therefore, we have joined together to broadcast a joint statement in order that measures be taken to address the problem,” Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation director Kim Pagna, one of the statement’s authors, said.
Based on a traffic police report on accidents over the last year – which did not include data from the Ministry of Health – during last year’s four-day long Chinese New Year celebrations, 44 people died in traffic accidents, up from 35 in 2017.
The report showed that throughout January this year, there were 331 road accidents, with 148 fatalities and 517 people injured.
In May 2011, the government participated in a global initiative to support the UN’s decade-long road safety plan with the intention of reducing the death toll by 50 per cent by 2020, saving some 7,000 lives in the process.
According to the annual report on victims of road accidents, in 2017 there were 1,976 fatalities and 485 injured – costing the country millions of dollars.
The joint statement stressed that traffic accidents seriously affect families and whole communities and have a big impact on the healthcare system.
According to the statement, 98 per cent of accidents are caused by human error – including driving too fast, drunk driving, using phones while driving and overtaking dangerously – while 75 per cent of fatalities involve motorcyclists.
According to AIP’s research, the death toll from road accidents in 2017 was 30 times higher than those killed by landmines, malaria and dengue fever combined.