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P'Chum Ben traffic deaths down from 2007: officials

P'Chum Ben traffic deaths down from 2007: officials

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Traffic officials say road safety education programs are paying off, with fewer accidents during this year's festival

HENG CHIVOAN

Cambodians return to the capital on Wednesday after spending P’Chum Ben in the provinces.

TRAFFIC accidents during this year's P'Chum Ben festival are down compared with the same period last year, according to Ministry of Interior figures.

The ministry's Order Department reported that across all 24 provinces and municipalities, 28 people were killed, 117 were seriously injured and 145 sustained minor injuries in traffic accidents from Saturday to Tuesday. The crunch-ups involved 34 cars, 195 motorbikes and five bicycles.

"The number of dead and injured people has been down during this year's P'Chum Ben if we compare it to last year," Order Department Director Po Khorn said Wednesday.

During the four days of P'Chum Ben last year, 36 people were killed, 151 were seriously injured and 254 were slightly injured. "Deaths and injuries have decreased, because people understand that the traffic laws are strict, and we fine and punish violators in traffic accidents," he added.

Po Khorn said most accidents occurred in Kandal, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Banteay Meanchey, Takeo and Kampot provinces. Pailin municipality and Ratanakkiri and Mondolkiri provinces had no reported traffic deaths or injuries.

"People get in accidents when they are driving drunk and driving too fast and carelessly," Po Khorn said.

Relevant officials and traffic police have worked to educate people about traffic rules, the importance of helmets and the fines for breaking traffic laws, he said. "The accidents will go down step by step through education and people's understanding and cooperation."

Sann Socheata, Road Safety Program Manager of Handicap International Belgium, said Wednesday that her organisation passed out leaflets and posters a few days before the P'Chum Ben festival, the Water Festival and the Khmer New Year to remind drivers not to speed, overload their vehicles or drive drunk.

"We will expand our program in November and focus on the importance of wearing helmets, because 80 percent of people who die in traffic accidents die from head injuries," she said.

She added that police will begin fining drivers not wearing helmets in January.

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