Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol urged ministry officials to set an example for others to follow by obeying the traffic laws, noting that the death toll in January rose to six per day on average which will have an estimated cost to the nation’s economy of about $450 million this year if that rate is sustained.

Chanthol was speaking at a meeting on February 2 with over 1000 civil servants who use motorcycles provided by the ministry to carry out their official duties. All of the attendees at the meeting also received free helmets to encourage safety.

Chanthol noted that according to recent statistics, the death toll for motorcycle accidents was as high as 78 out of 100 motorcyclists involved and at least 50 per cent of those who died were not wearing helmets.

The minister also said that civil servants driving cars owned by the ministry or privately must also set a good example by wearing their seat belts at all times.

“[You] must obey the traffic laws, wear your helmets and drive cautiously and carefully. Do not exceed the speed limit set for the road you are on and please help spread the word about safe driving. If each of us follows the traffic law and tells others to do the same, then we can save lives in Cambodia. Let’s set a good example for our citizens,” he added.

He continued that the average death rate from traffic accidents per day was around five, but after Cambodia reopened its economy the death toll rose to six per day, though ironically nobody has died from Covid-19 in the Kingdom in the past 28 days.

Citing a study by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Chanthol said road accidents cost Cambodia from $420 million to $450 million per year, mostly due to deaths, hospital costs, economic impacts on the survivors and damage to public and private properties.

Chanthol also said that it should be mandatory for transport companies to have a comprehensive training programme for their drivers on the traffic laws to contribute to a reduction in casualties.

Kim Panga, country director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, echoed Chanthol’s call and encouraged other ministries and the private sector to consider initiating a programme for educating the public to respect all traffic laws because the participation of stakeholders will enhance the effectiveness of traffic accident prevention.

“At the same time, we also need to have other measures in place, such as education necessary to encourage state institutions to examine the possibility of increasing compliance with the law by making enforcement a priority,” he said.