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Festival sees road deaths rise

Festival sees road deaths rise

Preliminary figures indicate that there were more road deaths during the final three days of this year’s Pchum Ben festival than there were last year, despite the fact that fewer collisions were recorded.

Him Yan, director of the Department of Public Order at the Ministry of Interior, said there were 99 collisions this year, down from 125 in the same period last year.

“There were 25 people who died, 123 who were seriously injured and 116 who were lightly injured,” he said.

In contrast, he said, the ministry recorded 18 deaths during the final three days of last year’s Pchum Ben festival.

Some 125 collisions were recorded during that period, along with 148 serious injuries and 131 light injuries, he said.

“We have noted that the main cause of road accidents and traffic jams is speeding,” Him Yan said.

Among the accidents, more than 50 percent were believed to have been caused by speeding, 21 percent by drunken driving and 10 percent by reckless driving.

Sann Socheata, road safety programme manager for Handicap International Belgium, said yesterday that it would take several months to put together complete statistics for the three-day stretch.

Last year, HIB, which collects reports both from police and from hospitals, recorded 50 road deaths during the final three days of Pchum Ben, she said.

Nevertheless, she said HIB was confident that an increasing number of Cambodians were complying with the Law on Land Traffic.

This view was echoed by Hun Hean, the police chief in Banteay Meanchey province, who said yesterday that there was only one traffic accident recorded there during the end of the festival.

“I see that the people understand more about the traffic law, and especially when they are driving they respect each other,” Hun Hean said. “That’s why we do not have traffic jams.”

Kheng Sum, deputy police chief in Siem Reap province, said there had been “a few” collisions recorded there during Pchum Ben, but that none had resulted in fatalities.

“I don’t know the exact number of injuries, but there was not any serious traffic accidents in my province,” he said.

Other provincial police officials said yesterday that they could not provide precise statistics on traffic collisions.