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PM urges govt officials to be 'model' citizens by wearing helmets

PM urges govt officials to be 'model' citizens by wearing helmets

With a new law requiring all motorbike riders to don helmets poised to come into force, Hun Sen says officials should be first to comply

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Monday called on government officials to be "model" citizens by wearing helmets when riding motorbikes even before the law requiring it comes into effect in January.

"I would like to appeal to all officials of the government and armed forces to set a good example by wearing helmets," he said during a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, adding that he expected even low-level officials, such as village chiefs, to respect his request.

"If you do not wear a helmet, how can we enforce the law?" he said.

He also urged all government ministries to keep tabs on how many of their staff members comply with the upcoming regulations.

Vendors should not exploit the rising demand for helmets that will follow the new traffic law by raising prices, he said.   

Hun Sen insisted vanity should not prevent commuters from protecting themselves.

"For ladies, please do not think about your hair becoming untidy. Even if you drive without a helmet, there is wind."

Ung Chun Hour, director general of transport at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said three-quarters of all road accidents involved motorbikes, and half of all traffic deaths could be prevented by wearing a helmet.

According to the Ministry of Interior, less than a quarter of commuters wear helmets. It also reported earlier this month that the number of fatalities from traffic accidents was up in 2008 by 1.8 percent from last year. 

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