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Motorcyclists targeted in drive to reduce road deaths

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Authorities attend the scene of a road traffic accident in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Motorcyclists targeted in drive to reduce road deaths

Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said on Saturday that the National Road Safety Committee is to tackle the problem of untrained motorcyclists in a push to reduce the death toll from accidents.

Speaking to people in Pursat province at an event for the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Sar Kheng, who is head of the committee, said 2017 statistics from the General Department of Land Transport showed that five people died in traffic accidents every day that year, while 1,900 fatalities were recorded.

“For motorcycles, because we want to make things as easy as possible for people, the Prime Minister declared that for motorcycles [under 125cc], a driving licence is not required."

“However, when people get such a motorcycle they can use it dangerously as they do not know how to ride. This causes traffic accidents,” Sar Kheng said.

As the Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the untrained riders of small-engine motorcycles as a major factor behind the Kingdom’s high road death rate, Ear Chariya, the director of the Road Safety Institute, pointed out that Cambodia is the only Asean member country where such vehicles can be ridden without the need for a licence.

[Riding lessons] for those using motorcycles under 125cc are a must and a priority for Cambodia,” Chariya said.

“The National Committee for Road Safety is studying to find [ways to improve road safety],” Sar Kheng vowed.

He delivered 10 short messages for all road users to remember to help avoid traffic accidents.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A motorbike lies on the road after an accident in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

The first is a driver should never break the speed limit. People should never drive after drinking alcohol or while under the influence of drugs or when feeling tired.

Motorcyclists must always wear a helmet. In cars, seatbelts must always be worn. Drivers must stick to the right-hand lane. Vehicles must be checked for road-worthiness. All [riders and] drivers must remain aware at all times.

“We can make copies of these 10 short messages and stick it on your motorcycle or car or place of work, and we can share them with other people,” Sar Kheng said.

For the 13th World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, the National Committee for Road Safety organised the event to raise awareness of the consequences of road accidents, which are largely caused by people breaking the law by riding a motorcycle without a helmet, driving over the speed limit, overtaking dangerously, overloading their vehicles or drink driving.

According to a road traffic police report, in the first nine months of last year, 1,780 people lost their lives and in 2016, 1,717 people died in road accidents. This year, 1,736 people have died so far.

Chariya welcomed the moves called for by Sar Kheng because he observed that 80 per cent of motorcycles in Cambodia are under 125cc."

“The lack of a need for a driving licence to use [such a] a motorcycle is not right because 80 per cent of riders on the roads use [one]."

“If we do not require them to have driver’s licenses, it means that we do not require them to learn the traffic laws or take riding lessons, [so once they] purchase a motorcycle, they can use it [straight away]."

“Therefore, [lessons for handling motorcycles under 125cc] is a must and a priority for Cambodia. If we look at our neighbouring countries and fellow Asean members, none of them permits a rider to use a motorcycle [below 125cc] without a licence,” he said.

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