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Road deaths up almost 15%

People inspect a truck in Pursat this year after it was involved in an accident. A road accident report released yesterday says people aged between 15 and 39 made up 64 per cent of road fatalities last year.
People inspect a truck in Pursat this year after it was involved in an accident. A road accident report released yesterday says people aged between 15 and 39 made up 64 per cent of road fatalities last year. Heng Chivoan

Road deaths up almost 15%

A national road safety action plan established in 2011 is severely off target and road deaths could surpass 3,200 by 2020 unless drastic action is taken, the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC) warned yesterday.

In total, 2,226 people were killed in 4,645 recorded traffic accidents in 2014, the NRSC reported – an average of more than six deaths per day, and nearly 15 per cent more than 2013.

That statistic was published in the NRSC’s Road Crash Information System Report 2014, released yesterday at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in Phnom Penh.

While figures on road deaths last year have previously been released by other organisations, the NRSC’s numbers follow an exhaustive study of records compiled by police, hospitals and other agencies.

Speaking at the launch of the report yesterday, Deputy National Police chief Hem Yean said while the majority of accidents occurred in cities, rural people unaccustomed to urban roads were often involved.

“They are used to travelling in quiet remote areas, so they do not need to be so careful. Moreover, there are no traffic lights and signs in the countryside, so they need time to adapt to the [city],” he said.

According to the report, 64 per cent of those who died last year were aged between 15 and 39 years old, while 42 per cent of those who died were listed as farmers.

That was the largest group by occupation, with 19 per cent listed as workers and 12 per cent listed as students.

The death toll represented a 14 per cent increase on the 1,950 people killed in 2013, with Public Works and Transport Minister and NRSC chairman Tram Iv Tek yesterday saying the failure to curb fatalities since the action plan was launched put Cambodia on course to hit the 3,200 deaths in 2020 – an average of almost nine per day – predicted by the NRSC in 2011.

According to independent road safety specialist Chariya Ear, in order to prevent that eventuality, the NRSC has highlighted the need to reduce the rate of fatalities by 5 per cent each year – yet it continues to increase.

Ear said that is partly due to a lack of effective enforcement of laws against serious offences such as speeding and drink driving, as well as a lack of funding.

“In order to achieve this goal, the government needs to invest around $10 million per year, but for the last four years it has been spending about $2 million per year [on road safety]”, he said.

“The government must put in a lot of effort to make sure we achieve this goal [of reducing deaths].”

Preliminary data from the Interior Ministry lists road deaths at 1,734 in first nine months of 2015, putting the country on course for yet another increase.

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