Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has expressed his optimism that the finalisation of the new road traffic law will lead to a reduction in casualties.

Sar Kheng, who is also chairman of the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC), said the new legislation coming into force would iron out some inconsistencies and issues not addressed by the old law.

The minister was speaking with the media after chairing a meeting to review the 2022 development in road safety and outline the direction for the year ahead at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport on January 30.

“The old law did not address situations that were yet to present themselves, such as in relation to the use of expressways and highways, among others, and was not consistent.

“These situations did not exist in Cambodia when the old law was created. I think the new law will help greatly reduce road accidents in relation to these new developments,” he said.

He added that the new legislation has already been reviewed by the NRSC and sent to the literary team for a final check. Once this was complete, he would refer it to the Council of Ministers for approval.

He confirmed that it would be ready by the first quarter of this year.

According to Sar Kheng, the NRSC originally intended to amend the old road traffic law, but discovered that more than half of the articles would require changes. This had led to the decision to write a completely new piece of legislation.

Min Manvi, transport ministry secretary of state and secretary-general of the NRSC, said 2,976 road accidents last year killed 1,709 people and injured 4,026 others, 2,579 of them seriously.

“In 2022, police sent 1,027 traffic accident cases to court, along with 316 offenders,” she said.

Phnom Penh suffered the highest toll, with 272 dead, followed by Kandal with 157 and Kampong Cham with 131.

Manvi said the leading cause of accidents was excess speed, with 39 per cent of crashes attributed to disobeying the speed limit; 24 per cent to failure to give way; 11 per cent to drivers neglecting to keep right; and 10 per cent to dangerous overtaking. Failure to take a bend, driving under the influence, mechanical factors and exhaustion made up the remaining causes.

Of the more than 4,000 motorcyclists involved in accidents, more than 3,000 were not wearing helmets. Most of the accidents took place at night, she noted.

Kong Sovann, a road safety specialist, said most accidents occurred due to careless or impatient driving. To reduce the road toll, she said drivers must learn to be tolerant and think of the safety of their fellow road users.

“I urge drivers not to operate their vehicles under the influence of alcohol. When a person drives drunk, they may feel fine, but their senses are not as sharp as they should be. Speed is also a concern – a crash at high speed has significantly higher consequences than one at low speed,” he added.

Sovann suggested that authorities do more to improve road safety, citing stricter law enforcement as a way to encourage drivers to obey the law.

According to Manvi, of the more than one million vehicles that were inspected last year, 140,000 were found to be in breach of the law, with over 12 billion riel (over $3 million) in fines collected.

“During the three month pilot period – from September to December – of a new fine and license point deduction scheme, more than 8,500 drivers were fined, just 489 of them women,” she added.