Phnom Penh authorities will deploy forces day and night at 16 points throughout the capital to identify motorcyclists not wearing helmets, while police will be stationed at two further locations at night to check truck drivers for alcohol and addictive substances.
Phnom Penh police chief Sar Thet told The Post on Sunday that after leading a meeting at the municipal headquarters to introduce a campaign to strengthen road traffic laws, the clampdown would be put in place from Monday onwards.
He said 15 to 20 officers at each location would take turns checking for motorcyclists and pillion passengers who do not wear helmets.
“When motorcyclists are caught, they must find a helmet before being allowed to travel further. There is no fine, but if they refuse to go and find a helmet, their motorbike will be taken to the district police station,” he said.
Sar Thet said police will also be deployed from 9pm every night on Win-Win Monument Road and on National Road 4 in order to check for the use of addictive substances and alcohol by drivers and their assistants in heavy goods vehicles.
He said if they were found to be using addictive substances, their truck would be detained and they would be taken to a rehabilitation centre or their guardian would be summoned to ensure they do not re-offend.
Minister of Interior Sar Kheng expressed concern last Wednesday that the number of traffic accidents had not decreased and urged immediate measures to be taken to improve the situation.
“The figures are worrying, especially the number of the dead and injured. It could be considered an emergency,” he said.
Sar Kheng said that the number of vehicles had increased by more than 30 per cent, especially in city centres such as Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.
National roads do not seem to have seen the same increase, he said, but motorbike accidents had increased by 50 per cent while the number of deaths from such accidents was up by 70 per cent.
“[In the past,] workers travelled together on a truck, but now they have money and they buy motorbikes and make their own way there. The number of motorbikes has increased – maybe it has resulted from that,” he said.
Institute for Road Safety acting director Kong Ratanak said the campaign may only be effective for a short period.
“We want the authorities to implement what is stipulated in the law rather than just following the comments of Samdech Krolahom [Sar Kheng] because such implementation is not stated in our laws.
“For me, when the authorities catch them and force them to find a helmet, they will go and find a helmet but it might not belong to them, they might borrow one from someone,” he said.
Ratanak said the most effective measure would be to implement the traffic law in a transparent way and educate and explain to people and do whatever the authorities can to make people understand why they should wear helmets to protect their lives.
A National Road Safety Committee report said that in the first six months of this year, there were 2,171 traffic accidents in Cambodia – an increase of 538 or 33 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The report said 1,033 people died in traffic accidents during this period and 3,224 were injured.