There were 51 reported traffic accidents during the replacement Khmer New Year holiday, leaving 21 people dead and 70 injured. Most of the accidents occurred in Phnom Penh.
According to a report by the National Police released over the weekend, the accidents involved 59 motorbikes and 30 vehicles.
Institute for Road Safety director Kong Ratanak told The Post on Sunday that during the five-day holiday, some citizens failed to properly follow traffic laws. The casualties break the recent trend of declining accident numbers before the holiday, when police rigorously enforced the new traffic law sub-decree throughout the country.
“This indicates the effectiveness of law enforcement and it shows that people are afraid of police more than the law. During the holiday, there were traffic police deployed at important places, but they were there to facilitate traffic and not to strengthen the law.
“We want equal law enforcement with transparency and persistency on a regular basis,” Ratanak said.
He said people have generally flouted traffic law for a long time and it is difficult to change their bad habits in a short period.
“The first thing we need to do is to let them know that law enforcement is equal and no offenders will be forgiven,” he said.
According to the National Police, the traffic accidents occurred in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Pursat, Battambang, Kandal, Takeo, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey Preah Vihear, Svay Rieng, Kampong Speu and Kratie.
The report said 3,891 vehicle owners were stopped and fined for violating traffic law over the holiday, 2,882 of them were motorbike riders.
The new traffic law sub-decree, which increases traffic fines three to five-fold, aims to decrease the number of accidents this year.
The government felt compelled to enact the measure after the number of injuries and deaths jumped dramatically from 2018 to 2019.
Road traffic offences, the National Police said, included driving without a helmet, driving under the influence of alcohol and failing to obey traffic lights and signs.
They also included turning offences, driving overweight vehicles, driving without registration plates, using a phone while driving, driving without a licence and not wearing safety belt.