Citing his concerns about traffic accidents – one of the leading causes of death and injury in Cambodia – Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated calls for people, especially youth, to respect the rules of the road.

“You are all very lucky to be born under these circumstances,” he said while addressing A grade high school graduates and level III Technical and Vocational Diploma students in Phnom Penh on February 2.

“One of the greatest risks that students face now is traffic accidents, a very different risk from the ones faced by the previous generations. The flames of war meant the youth of earlier eras were not just denied the opportunity to study, but often sacrificed their lives,” he said.

“You are all lucky that you do not need to escape from battlefields or bombs. I know you face some difficulties, but they are not as severe as the problems of the past,” he added.

He called on all of the assembled students to respect the traffic laws and remain vigilant on the road.

“Please, be careful on the roads. I know most of you ride motorcycles or ride bicycles. You are all now at the age where you should develop good driving habits. Please respect the rules – and each other. It is up to each of you to avoid accidents,” he said.

Hun Sen also called for increased public education campaigns that would encourage people to follow the rules of the road.

Kong Sovann, founder and strategic adviser at the Cambodia Safety Solution Organisation (CaMSafe), said most accidents occurred due to careless or impatient driving. To reduce the road toll, drivers should learn to be tolerant and think of the safety of their fellow road users.

“I urge drivers not operate their vehicles under the influence of alcohol. When a person drives drunk, they may feel fine, but their senses are not as sharp as they should be. Speed is also a concern – a crash at high speed has significantly higher consequences than one at low speed,” he said.

Sovann said more need to be done to improve road safety, suggesting that stricter law enforcement would encourage drivers to obey the law.

A January 30 report by the National Road Safety Committee (NCRC) said 2,976 road accidents in 2022 killed 1,709 people, a 14 per cent increase on the previous year.

“The leading cause of accidents was excess speed, with 39 per cent of crashes attributed to disobeying the speed limit; 24 per cent were caused by a failure to give way; 11 per cent by drivers neglecting to keep right; and 10 per cent were put down to dangerous overtaking. Failure to take a bend, driving under the influence, mechanical factors and exhaustion made up the remaining causes,” it said.

It added that of the more than 4,000 motorcyclists involved in accidents, more than 3,000 were not wearing helmets, noting that most of the accidents took place at night.