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Holiday road deaths ‘worrying’ despite slight drop in casualties

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An accident on Prek Pnov Bridge in Phnom Penh on September 13. Hong Menea

Holiday road deaths ‘worrying’ despite slight drop in casualties

The number of people killed on the Kingdom’s roads over the three days of the Pchum Ben holiday has been described as “worrying” despite the death toll being slightly down on last year.

Twenty-six people died and 80 were injured nationwide between Friday and Sunday – a decrease of two fatalities compared to last year – the National Police road traffic accident report said.

Deputy National Police chief Him Yan told The Post on Monday that two fewer people were killed in road accidents over Pchum Ben this year compared to the year before, while the number of injured was down by five.

Yan, who is also the secretary-general of the National Road Safety Committee, said the most accidents were recorded in Kandal, Kampong Cham, Kampot and Takeo provinces.

While the death toll was down on last year, where 28 people were killed, drivers continued to cause accidents by speeding and driving recklessly, he said.

The National Police said three trucks, 24 cars and 66 motorcycles were damaged in 52 reported traffic accidents.

Most were caused by speeding, drink driving and overtaking and turning dangerously, with drivers failing to respect the right of way and keeping to their lanes.

Kim Pagna, the country director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, said the death toll on Cambodia’s roads this Pchum Ben break was still too many.

“The number of deaths is worrying despite it being down from last year’s figures. Twenty-six deaths during the three days of the Pchum Ben holiday equates to nine people being killed every day. And this does not include the many others who were injured,” Pagna said.

The measures employed by government institutions, civil society groups, the private sector and media to educate drivers, he said, had failed to significantly reduce the number of accidents.

“As the government uses educational methods to change driving habits, it should also prioritise strengthening equitable and transparent law enforcement. The number of deaths in traffic accidents would then be reduced as people’s attitudes change,” Pagna said.

As well as tightening law enforcement, the government should also introduce other measures such as improving road infrastructure and installing more traffic lights, he said.

Civil society groups also called for a ban on alcohol advertisements. If there is no blanket ban, they should at least be stopped during the main national holidays, Pagna said.

Meanwhile, Ey Sokha, the Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy police chief in charge of traffic, said three people were killed on Monday in a three-vehicle smash.

A taxi carrying seven passengers, including two young women, collided with a lorry transporting stone and another carrying sand while overtaking in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district, Sokha said.

Police are yet to identify the dead, who were passengers in the taxi, he said.

The police report said the crash was caused when the 26-year-old driver of a Hyundai Starex minivan taxi travelling from Kampot to Preah Sihanouk province attempted to overtake the lorry in front of it, Sokha said.

The taxi hit a lorry travelling down the hill in the opposite direction. The two vehicles then smashed into the other truck.

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