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Road deaths see steep rise this year

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A car blocks a lane of the Prek Pnov bridge in Phnom Penh after a traffic accident in September. Hong Menea

Road deaths see steep rise this year

Road traffic deaths in the third quarter increased by more than a hundred this year, with injuries also up on last year as the number of accidents rose by almost 250, the National Police reported on Tuesday.

From July to September, 488 people were killed in 988 traffic accidents, an increase of 105 and 238 respectively on the same period last year, while 1,494 were injured, up by 446.

The report was released on Tuesday at a meeting on the results of the implementation of the Law on Road Traffic for the third quarter at the General Commissariat of National Police. The meeting was led by Him Yan, National Police deputy chief and the secretary-general of the National Road Safety Committee.

Most traffic accidents occurred in Phnom Penh and resulted in 83 deaths. Kandal province had the next

highest death toll with 45 people killed, while 41 were killed in Kampong Speu province and 37 in Preah Sihanouk province.

“Speeding was the greatest cause of traffic accidents, responsible for 33 per cent; failing to respect other road users’ right of way was next with 27 per cent; failure to stay in lane caused 13 per cent of accidents; overtaking dangerously 10 per cent; turning without due care nine per cent; drink driving four per cent; vehicle factors three per cent; and driving while tired one per cent,” the report said.

Of the 488 people killed, most of them were riding motorcycles. Some 392, equivalent to 80 per cent, were riding motorcycles with engines of 125cc or smaller, while 312, equivalent to 76 per cent, weren’t wearing helmets. Additionally, 232 were killed on motorcycles at night while not wearing helmets.

The total number of traffic accidents increased 238 times on the third quarter of last year, the report said.

Ty Long, the deputy director of Traffic Police, said on Tuesday that traffic accidents had risen due to the increasing number of vehicles on the roads, with 700,000 cars and 3.5 million motorbikes now registered throughout Cambodia. People aged between 15 and 40 years old were involved in the most traffic accidents.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Road fatalities have witnessed a sharp increase this quarter. Facebook

“The law is now better and we are currently preparing further amendments, as [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng had requested, with regards to increasing penalties and fines,” Long said.

Kim Pagna, country director for the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, said the high number of traffic fatalities this year was concerning.

He recommended prioritising law enforcement to reduce the death toll on Cambodia’s roads.

“Educating people when they fail to obey the law is not proving effective. It makes them aware of the law but does not change their behaviour on the road. So it is necessary to strictly enforce the law everywhere,” Pagna said.

He added that factors contributing to traffic accidents continued to increase, with the main issues being driver behaviour and the increasing number of vehicles on the road.

Some 200,000 to 300,000 vehicles were registered with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport every year, he said.

“The data we have received shows that it is motorcyclists with little understanding of the law who are frequently involved in traffic accidents. Most were riding 125cc motorbikes or lower, for which the law does not require them to have a driving licence. They can just buy a motorbike and ride away,” Pagna said.

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