Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, who is also chairman of the National Road Safety Committee, on Thursday called 2020 the year of traffic law enforcement. He said the time for educating motorists rather than punishing them has ended.
Speaking at the monthly road safety meeting, Sar Kheng said this must be the year of traffic law enforcement in order to reduce road fatalities which plague the Kingdom.
He noted public education measures should still continue, but enforcement must now be prioritised.
“For 2020, I think we should change our priorities by shifting from education to serious law enforcement.
“It doesn’t mean that we stop educating the public. We will continue with that, but law enforcement is the priority because the law forces people to respect it, whether they have learned it or not.
“You cannot be excused by saying you did not learn or do not know the law, and say you are innocent. The law did not say so. Law is the law, whether you know it or not, if you are wrong it means you are wrong.
“If they say that they don’t know the law, how many years more do they need to know the law. The law is there to protect their lives. Every year, we lose two per cent of our GDP to traffic accidents. This is about $400 million.
“Most democratic countries take legal enforcement as the main priority. We already taught and did outreach over the traffic law and we will continue to do that. But our priority must now be law enforcement and the law must be respected. Everyone is equal before the law,” Sar Kheng said.
Sar Kheng said traffic police must apply the law to everyone on the road, no matter if the driver is a four-star general or a street vendor.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on Thursday that in January alone, 358 traffic accidents occurred, resulting in 206 deaths and 558 injuries.
Director of the Institute for Road Safety Kong Ratanak said on Thursday that he agreed with Sar Kheng on the shift from traffic law education to law enforcement.
“What Sar Kheng said is a positive step and I support this priority shift and we will continue to educate people over the law. We must strengthen law enforcement, and look at road problems, which is the engineering aspect,” he said.
He said there are a small number of traffic police who were still taking bribes and some other high-ranking officials who do not respect the traffic laws, boasting that they do not need to due to their position.
“We want officers to respect the law as role models for the public and their fellow officials. They should not boast with their uniform and disrespect the law,” he said.