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First Pchum Ben traffic death

City dwellers overload a truck in Phnom Penh before travelling back to their villages to celebrate Pchum Ben last year
City dwellers overload a truck in Phnom Penh before travelling back to their villages to celebrate Pchum Ben last year. The Ministry of Public Work and Transportation has warned that traffic accidents and casualties could increase significantly during the annual festival. HENG CHIVOAN

First Pchum Ben traffic death

After a head-on collision in Kandal province killed one driver and injured nine people heading home to celebrate Pchum Ben on Monday night, the Kingdom’s transportation department is urging people to be careful on the road during the holiday, which has historically seen a rise in traffic accidents.

Dok Kimheng, 29, of Kandal’s Muk Kampoul district, was killed and 14 others were injured when a van carrying nine people travelling from Phnom Penh to Prey Veng for Pchum Ben veered into oncoming traffic and collided with the truck carrying Kimheng and four passengers, according to Nov Sophon, chief of police in Khsach Kandal district, where the crash occurred.

All 14 survivors, including the van’s driver Ya Yan, 26, of Prey Veng province, were taken to hospitals in Prey Veng and Phnom Penh with serious injuries, Sophon said.

“The van’s driver did not adhere to the traffic rules, and sped into the wrong lane,” Sophon said.

Kimheng’s body was recovered by his family, and both vehicles are currently impounded at the Khsach Kandal district police station.

Three main factors – the condition of drivers, vehicles and roads – cause traffic accidents, Preap Chanvibol, director of the transport department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, said. The influx of drivers on the roads during the mass exodus from Phnom Penh that comes with Pchum Ben intensifies dangers on the road.

“People have to be especially on guard against traffic accidents during Pchum Ben,” Chanvibol said. “Bus companies should avoid using tired drivers or forcing them to drive if they are sick.”

Between 2005 and 2010, traffic fatalities in Cambodia doubled, surpassing 1,800, according to Cambodia Road Crash and Victim Information System.

The number of traffic fatalities around Pchum Ben are historically only second to those killed in traffic accidents during Khmer New Year, crash and victim information data show.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

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