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Road deaths high, but change in motorist behaviour ‘noticeable’

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Despite tougher traffic enforcement laws the fatality rate on Cambodia’s roads remains high. Heng Chivoan

Road deaths high, but change in motorist behaviour ‘noticeable’

Despite recent tougher enforcement of traffic law, the death rate on Cambodia’s roads remains high.

More than 700 people died and more than 2,000 were injured in the past five months, according to National Police statistics.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said on Thursday that from May 1 to October 21, there were 1,419 traffic accidents, resulting in 703 fatalities and 2,190 injuries. Vehicles stopped by police totalled 194,340 with motorbikes making up 143,592 of that number. More than 50,000 cars were stopped.

He said both car drivers and bike riders face the potential for accidents that can cause them to lose their lives or sustain injuries because they do not follow the law.

“They do not wear helmets, follow traffic signs, they drink and drive, they have no plate numbers, they speed, they drive without a licence, they do not wear seat belts and they use their phones while driving,” he said.

Still, Kim Khoeun said based on police daily operations data, it can be deduced that the law has changed behaviour in a positive way.

“I want to say traffic accidents have dropped compared to the past years and the number of fines issued has dropped in general. It is between 500 to 600 vehicles on average per day. It was 3,000 to 4,000 vehicles per day before,” he said.

Kim Khoeun said another positive change can be seen by the number of drivers going to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to apply for licences and to do driving test. More are also undergoing technical inspections and obtaining proper documents to drive legally and safely.

Road Safety director Kong Ratanak said traffic accident data shows deaths and injuries are not as low as they should be.

“I see that there is some effectiveness, but I do not know if it reaches [the target] we want. The number drop, but not a lot,” he said.

Ratanak said Cambodia has to strengthen traffic laws regularly. People are afraid of police more than dangers that could happen to them. If there are police visible, people will follow the law, he said.

“I think we need a greater presence of traffic police to change people’s attitudes,” he said.

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