As part of an ongoing campaign to reduce traffic accidents and prevent impaired driving on public roads, Kampong Cham provincial police have stopped 648 drivers since May, 95 of whom tested positive for drug use, usually methamphetamine derivatives known as “ice” or “yama”.
On Tuesday alone, 167 truck drivers were stopped and checked, and of them, 20 tested positive for the consumption of drugs. All 20 were in their thirties, with seven being drivers, five assistants and eight loaders.
Eth Dara, the provincial deputy police chief, said that on orders from provincial authorities, a campaign was started to check drug use among drivers to reduce traffic accidents.
“We checked 167 men today, all on board container trucks,” he said, adding that documents are being prepared to send 20 of them to court.
Dara said it is the fifth time since May that provincial police have set up checkpoints in Cheung Prey, Ba Theay and Kampong Siem districts. So far, 95 of the 648 men tested were found to have been using drugs.
“The objective of the campaign is to reduce drug use, which we believe is one cause of accidents on the roads,” he said.
Highlighting a major accident caused by a driver under the influence of drugs, he said: “The driver drove off from a bridge and hit a house. We found two small bags of drugs on him,” he said.
Run Rath Veasna, head of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Traffic and Public Order, said the daily checks for drugs and alcohol were the traffic police’s main duty.
“We have found that truck drivers who work at night often use drugs. These people are a danger to other road users. When they use drugs, they cannot control their vehicles properly. We try to set up checkpoints often, but we don’t have the capacity to check every road,” he said.
Ear Chariya, the director for the Institute for Road Safety, said when drivers use drugs, the effect is the same as with alcohol consumption.
“We state that the law should not allow any drug users to drive. If a driver uses drugs, they can’t use the road safely,” he said.
The government should also check drivers who ferry garment workers to work, because accidents involving workers result in many injuries and sometimes death, Chariya said.
Suon Vanhong, deputy director-general of the Transportation Department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said that about 600,000 motor vehicles are registered with his department, including buses, pickups and container trucks.
Meas Virith, spokesman for the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), said the body is expanding its drugs campaign to include combating their use by truck drivers.
“In our campaign, we also combat drug use among truck drivers. We have already instructed transport companies to participate in our action plan. We have asked that they check their staff because we believe that those who work at night could fall into using drugs . . . and cause problems,” Virith said.
He said that as part of its campaign, the NACD also met with company representatives to put in place initiatives to stop possible drug use among their drivers.
“We told them to check on their employees, and invited them to listen to our guidance. We try to identify people who are likely to use drugs. We also distribute urine tests nationwide,” he said.