Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Monday commended traffic police throughout the Kingdom for stepping up the government’s “wearing a helmet” campaign, which he said had reduced death toll among motorcycle riders.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Sar Kheng said during the 13-day campaign from July 19-31, deaths from traffic accidents had notably decreased compared to the same period from July 6-18.
“I’d like to express my admiration for the great spirit of the security forces, especially the traffic police nationwide, who strived to perform their duties in enforcing the law and tightening the education campaign to ensure all motorcycle riders wore helmets,” he said.
Figures released by the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Traffic Police and Public Order showed that from July 19-31, 31 of the 40 motorcycle riders who died in road accidents did not wear a helmet. In the July 6-18 period, 36 of the 49 motorcycle drivers who died did not wear a helmet.
The ministry officially launched the one-month “wearing a helmet” campaign on July 17. Officers were not required to impose a fine but were obliged to stop motorcycle riders from travelling until they find a helmet.
National Road Safety Committee secretary-general Him Yan could not be reached for comment on Monday. But late last month, he said in just one week, nearly 20,000 motorcycle riders and passengers were stopped by traffic police for not wearing a helmet.
Institute for Road Safety acting director Kong Ratanak said since the campaign was launched, his organisation had seen an increase in the number of people who wore helmets. But he expressed fears that their numbers would decline after the campaign ended.
Ratanak pointed out that most people were more fearful of the traffic police than they were of a road accident. He called for permanent enforcement of the law and the campaign.
“Previously, the traffic police started the education campaign but failed to tighten it, so fewer people wore a helmet.
“But when they conducted the campaign and tightened it, we saw that more people started wearing it, not only in Phnom Penh but also in various provinces . . . This is a good mechanism so the campaign should be conducted regularly,” he said.
A report issued by the Ministry of Interior said road accidents claimed 1,033 lives and injured 3,224 in the first six months of this year. This is an increase of 103 and 827, respectively, compared to the same period last year.