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Helmets for passengers planned

Helmets for passengers planned

A man rides past Wat Phnom with two passengers who are not wearing helmets.

Despite the high death rate on the Kingdom’s roads, carefree motorbike passengers are not required to don a helmet. But that could soon change, if an amendment to Cambodia’s Traffic Law is passed.

Peou Maly, deputy director- general of  transport and deputy secretary-general of  the government’s National Road Safety Committee, said yesterday he had drafted an amendment to the Traffic Law that would require passengers on motorcycles to wear helmets.

“I have finished the draft and am waiting [for further consul-tation] before sending it to the Ministry of Interior, the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly,” Peou Maly said.

According to national data,  18,287 people – 72 per cent of them motorcyclists – died on Cambodia’s roads last year.

Of those, 37 per cent suffered head injuries because they were not wearing helmets.

Although the draft received a positive reaction from road-safety groups and motorcycle riders yesterday, some motodops on the capital’s streets expressed concern at the cost of providing a helmet for their passengers.

Tan Sokha, 45, a motodop based at Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang III market, said that although making passengers wear helmets would be good for road safety, he had asked the government to consider  the cost to motodops, who would be forced to spend between US$20 and $30 on good-quality headgear.

“I make only 15,000 riel to 20,000 riel [US$3.75 to  $5] a day, so the government would be very kind to consider this point,” Tan Sokha said.

Chea Soeurn, 38, a motodop who operates near the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, said most of his passengers were foreigners so he would invest in a helmet if the amendment was passed.

But he said he would be able to afford only a second-hand helmet costing between $5 and  $10.

“It is important that the price is cheap so I can afford it,” Chea Sourn said.