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Officials meet over vehicle fatalities

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Run Roth Veasna, the director of the Department of Traffic Police and Public Order at the General Commissariat of National Police. Hong Menea

Officials meet over vehicle fatalities

Police officials and legal experts met at the Council of Ministers on Monday to discuss ways to tackle the increasing death toll on the Kingdom’s roads.

National Police figures for this year show that 148 people were killed in January and 162 in February, while 203 people died on Cambodian roads in March.

Legal group experts and representatives from the National Police held the Legal Aspects and Measures to Prevent Traffic Accidents meeting in the capital.

At a press conference led by government spokesman Phay Siphan, it was warned that those who use violence against a driver involved in a road traffic accident could face a more serious punishment than the driver.

Drivers involved in accidents should not try to escape but remain at the scene and resolve the issue according to the law.

“So far [we have] noticed that a small number of people used violence and beat drivers after they caused a traffic accident as they did not know the law or the punishment for using such violence,” said Sok Pheng, the deputy director of the Legal Adviser Team of the Office of the Council of Ministers.

He said if a driver hits someone with their car and kills him, and a third person uses violence against the driver, it will be a serious felony. The third person would be imprisoned longer than the driver.

The driver would be punished with one to three years in prison, but the person who beat the driver would receive a lengthier sentence.

“Those who use violence against a driver who caused a traffic accident can be considered as intentionally torturing and causing injury."

“If the driver is sentenced to three years in prison, those who use violence may be sentenced to more than three years. And if they beat the driver to death, it would result in the serious felony charge of intentional murder,” Pheng said.

He said violence should not be used against the driver after a traffic accident. The injured, he said, should be seen to immediately, even if it means the driver leaves the scene. The driver should go to the authorities and resolve the matter according to the law.

Run Roth Veasna, the director of the Department of Traffic Police and Public Order at the General Commissariat of National Police, said authorities have arrested people for using violence against drivers who caused accidents. This was an illegal act that affected public order and caused social insecurity.

“If you see a traffic accident, please don’t beat the driver, let the driver resolve the issue in accordance with the law. If you injure the driver or beat him to death, this is illegal and you will be held responsible.

“All drivers – please be moral and respect others on the road, and if you cause an accident to the victim, please don’t escape, you must immediately help them or send them to the hospital,” Roth Veasna said.

He said in March, more than 200 people were killed in traffic accidents, with some days seeing up to 11 people killed.

This had concerned the country’s leaders, with officials at all levels and in institutions urged to strictly strengthen law enforcement.

Ear Chariya, the director of the Road Safety Institute, said that a driver or motorcyclist fleeing the scene of an accident was an evasion of responsibility and helped foster a culture impunity in society.

Such a culture of impunity was also the reason many took the law into their own hands, he said.

He added that a driver involved in an accident should not flee the scene but get out of the car to check on the injured, which could save lives.

“Some drivers escape the scene when they cause an accident, saying they were afraid of an angry mob, but I think this is just pretext to avoid responsibility,” Chariya said.

According to data in the National Police report used at Monday’s meeting, there were 331 road accidents in January, in which 148 people, including 29 women were killed.

In February, there were 362 accidents in which 162 people, including 26 women, died. March had the highest death toll, with 203 people, including 30 women killed in 383 accidents.

Speeding, overtaking when not safe, driving when drunk or tired, and not respecting other road users were among the main reasons for the accidents.

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