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Road safety urged over New Year holidays

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People leave Phnom Penh for the provinces on an overloaded vehicle prior to Khmer New Year in 2019. Hong Menea

Road safety urged over New Year holidays

The National Road Safety Committee (NRSC) called on people to adhere to traffic law during the Khmer New Year holiday – observed from April 14-16 – to minimise casualties.

In an April 6 letter seen by The Post, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, who is also chairman of the NRSC, said road users who were willing to abide by the law had made a critical contribution to reducing casualties and property damage associated with traffic accidents.

He said road accidents remain a long-term and immediate challenge, adding that they could be caused by even the briefest moment of carelessness.

As the nation works together to fight Covid-19 – and as the Khmer New Year approaches – he called on individual road users to play their part in reducing accidents. Two of the simplest things they can do, he said, are to wear helmets and not exceed the speed limit.

He urged people to refrain from driving under the influence and to obey the right-hand side rule and traffic signs. They should always wear seat belts while travelling in a car and not take risks while overtaking. He also reminded people they should not use telephones without a hands-free option while driving.

He also asked people to have their vehicles inspected regularly, and reminded them that overloading a vehicle – with goods or passengers – was dangerous. He also made it clear that passengers should never be transported on the roof of a vehicle – and warned commercial operators not to increase fares over the holiday.

Sar Kheng told all drivers to always drive with care and tolerance, and to rest if they felt too drowsy to drive.

“Please, I want all road users to understand and respect the legal requirements of operating any vehicle. Please adhere to the rules of the road – not just to avoid legal consequences – but to protect the lives of yourselves and your families, your property, and the dignity and harmony of the Kingdom,” he said.

Kim Pagna, director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation in Cambodia, said on April 6 that he respected the efforts of the NRSC – through its regular activities, as well as the issuance of the heartfelt letter appealing to the public. There has been a lot of publicity surrounding the campaign, and enforcement of laws has been increasing, he said.

Pagna said consistent implementation of the law, both day and night and with transparency, would be the basis of reducing the road toll.

“I encourage the government, especially the traffic police force, to tighten up law enforcement – including over the traditional Khmer New Year. During the holidays, people are often very excited to gather. This means there is a temptation to speed, which in turn leads to more accidents,” he said.

He added that enforcing traffic laws should not meet with many complaints from the public, as they recognised that there laws were there to protect them. They ensured that families would be celebrating together, and not mourning the loss of a member.

Pagna also suggested that traffic police officers increase their patrols and make use of roadside cameras, which he said were great preventative tools and helpful for monitoring traffic offenders and congestion.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said the current zero-tolerance approach to traffic law would continue unabated, and that speed cameras and checkpoints would still be in operation during the upcoming holiday.

“Whether it is New Year or not, once cameras are deployed, they remain in service until they are removed. They are there to regulate traffic the whole year round. We will continue to enforce the law regardless of the day, without exception,” he said.

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