Sar Kheng, Minister of Interior and chairman of the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC), said some drivers are apparently more afraid of the police than the law and only seemed to obey the road rules while officers are enforcing them.
Kheng said this while observing the 17th World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on December 7.
He also noted that many of the losses were preventable. If people on motorcycles always wore helmets – and if those in car wore seatbelts – fewer families would be mourning their loved ones.
“I have also noticed that when the traffic police are actively mounting a campaign to enforce safe behaviour on the roads, people obey the rules. Once the campaign ends, many drivers return to their dangerous habits. It is clear that such drivers are not afraid of the law but of the traffic police,” he said.
“At this point, I ask people to change their perception. Rather than following the traffic laws out of fear, they should follow them out of love. Love for themselves, love for their fellow road users and love for the families of every resident of the Kingdom. We need to take responsibility for one another,” he added.
He said the number of traffic accidents occurring at night is still alarming, and urged increased alertness among drivers.
Kim Pagna, director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, said the number of registered vehicles has increased, meaning the roads are more congested than ever, with many new drivers and motorcyclists. Compounding this is the fact that most motorcyclists are not properly trained.
“We see an increase in the number of vehicles from day to day. Motorcycles with an engine capacity of less than 125cc do not require the driver to hold a licence, so their driving behaviour on the road is often risky,” he said.
He added that education, administrative measure and law enforcement would improve road conditions in the long run, not just in the short term.
“When it comes to infrastructure, putting up speed limit signs and improving road and intersection design has done a lot to reduce accidents,” he said.
He suggested that issues should be addressed at meetings every three months. The participation of the relevant authorities, as well as civil society organisations and journalists, among others, would help to find appropriate long-term solutions.
According to an NRSC report, in the first nine months of the year, there were 2,286 road accidents, an increase of 21 per cent. Fatalities had increased by 27 per cent, with 1,342 people losing their lives on the roads.