Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police to resume fining riders without helmets as safety campaign ends

Police to resume fining riders without helmets as safety campaign ends

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Police educate drivers during a recent road safety campaign. road safety department

Police to resume fining riders without helmets as safety campaign ends

Traffice police have resumed issuing fines to motorbike riders and passengers following the one-month nationwide campaign to clamp down on anyone not wearing a helmet.

During the campaign, which ran from July 19 until Sunday, traffic police stopped 107,412 helmetless motorbike riders.

Rather than being issued with fines, offenders were instead required to find a helmet before being allowed to proceed on their journey.

National Road Safety Committee secretary-general Him Yan told The Post that Siem Reap was the province with the highest proportion of helmet wearers – up to 92 per cent.

It was followed by Phnom Penh with 89 per cent, he said, while Mondulkiri province, with 40 per cent of people wearing helmets, had the lowest rate.

“During the campaign, we observed that nationwide, the wearing of helmets has steadily increased. But in certain places, especially faraway provinces in the countryside, they still have a habit of not wearing helmets. We also notice that there has been a large rise in the number of motorbikes, and riders face many dangers.

“So we can begin to minimise the dangers by first tackling helmet wearing, drunkenness and drug abuse. We will strive to go further,” Yan said.

He said that during the campaign, 114 motorbike riders died and 343 were injured.

This represented four fewer fatalities but 15 more injuries, Yan said, compared to the month before the helmet crackdown.

From Monday, traffic police resumed issuing fines to motorbike riders, and Yan said anyone failing to wear a helmet will be fined 15,000 riel ($3.75) and be required to find a helmet before being allowed to continue their journey.

Mondulkiri Provincial Hall spokesman Sok Sera said most residents in the province had not yet learnt about traffic laws, especially the wearing of helmets.

He said it was not always possible to force people to buy a helmet before being allowed to go.

“We carried out the campaign, but sometimes it is difficult for our law enforcement officials because many of our people have next to nothing – sometimes only having 10,000 riel or 20,000 riel to go to the market and buy salt or gluten seasoning,” he said.

However, Institute for Road Safety acting director Kong Ratanak said the authorities’ refusal to enforce the law based on people’s living standards was just an excuse because helmets are a lot cheaper than motorbikes.

“If we compare the price of a motorbike to a helmet, they are very different. Even old motorbikes still cost $300 to $500.

“These days there are microfinance lenders, so they buy new motorbikes. But not wearing helmets is part of their habit and law enforcement is too lazy to keep up with the rules,” he said.

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