Two NGOs focused on Cambodian road safety have sent a letter to Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Wednesday requesting that road safety be included in students’ learning objectives ahead of the beginning of the new school year on Friday.
In their letter, the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP Foundation) and Coalition for Road Safety said: “We would like to request that His Excellency [Naron] urge leaders of institutions operating across the nation under the [ministry’s umbrella] raise awareness of road safety among students, teachers, parents and guardians when students return to school this year in order to better inform them so that they can help reduce traffic accidents.”
They also requested that questions of road safety be included in the Grade 12 National Examinations, saying that the number of road accidents was high, despite traffic conditions having been improved considerably.
The NGOs said the number of deaths from traffic accidents each year was at least 30 times more than the number of deaths attributed to fevers, malaria and landmines, adding that 10 per cent of deaths that resulted from traffic accidents involved female students.
“The majority of the accidents happen when students commute to and from schools,” it said.
AIP Foundation and Coalition for Road Safety said traffic accidents in the first nine months of this year had increased compared to the same period last year.
The NGOs also warned that a high number of traffic accidents occurred during the Water Festival, which also happens to coincide with the beginning of the academic year.
AIP Foundation director Kim Panha told The Post on Thursday that Cambodia’s road safety network had already made strides in improving awareness across the Kingdom, particularly in schools.
“We strongly believe the actions that the Ministry of Education would take will make students, teachers, parents, and the students’ guardians gain more knowledge on road safety, especially during this academic year onwards. We hope that students would be safer commuting to school and elsewhere,” he said.
Ministry of Education, Youths and Sports spokesman Ros Soveacha said the ministry has coordinated with the Ministry of Interior and NGO Handicap International to include road safety in the national curriculum since 2004.
He said the ministry published a textbook in 2006 to benefit students from primary school to high school, adding that Grade 10-Grade 12 students received supplementary education from the ministry, Handicap International and the Ministry of Interior.
“The ministry also recently issued a directive to strengthen the education of road safety across the country. It works closely with relevant institutions through an inter-ministerial committee and teachers’ training on road safety was completed in 2009,” Soveacha said.
The National Police’s report said 988 traffic accidents had occurred in the third quarter of this year, killing 488 and leaving 1,494 injured.
The accidents increased by 238 cases compared to the same period last year, while the number of deaths had increased by 105. The number of injuries rose by 446 compared to last year.
The report said the majority of traffic accidents in the third quarter occurred in Phnom Penh, causing 83 deaths, followed by Kandal province (45), Kampong Speu (41), and Preah Sihanouk (37).
The major causes of the accidents were overspeeding (33 per cent), law violation, careless driving, driving under influence, falling asleep at the wheel, and poorly maintained vehicles.