Youth for Road Safety, a network of students from four universities in Phnom Penh, is set to launch an awareness-raising campaign in an attempt to reduce the use of mobile phones while driving.
The group is comprised of students from the University of Cambodia, Royal University of Phnom Penh, International University and Asia-Europe University.
Through a joint statement released during an annual conference on road safety held in the capital on Thursday, the group said motorists who use mobile phones while driving were four times more likely to get into road accidents than those who did not.
“We are determined to act as role models and to improve the knowledge, behaviour and attitude of youths and other community members."
“Driving behaviour is the main cause of death on the road. We believe that more needs to be done to reduce the use of mobile phones while driving. Such behaviour is very dangerous."
“Such careless driving causes concerns to everyone travelling on the road. If the practice continues, road accidents will increase, leading to higher death tolls, disability and loss of properties,” said the statement.
According to a report released by the National Committee for Road Safety, an average of five people died and 13 were injured every day in road accidents in 2016.
The report, Road Accident and Road Victims in Cambodia, showed that deaths caused by road accidents were 30 times higher than deaths caused by malaria, dengue fever and mine explosions combined.
The report said road accidents not only affects victims and their families, but also badly impacted Cambodia’s development, costing the country’s GDP between two and three per cent annually.
A signatory to the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, Cambodia is determined to reduce deaths and injury rates by mid-2020.
Asia Injury Prevention Foundation country director of Kim Panga said while road accidents have declined slightly so far this year, the number of deaths remains high at around 2,000.
“Motorcyclists are most vulnerable to road accidents because motorbikes are the most popular means of transport for young people in Cambodia,” he said.
“Human error and careless driving behaviour, including the use of mobile phones, is the leading cause of deaths and injuries in road accidents,” he added.
According to the US’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), youths in many countries around the world share a dangerous attitude to driving because of their lack of driving experience and willingness to try reckless manoeuvres. They added that the use of mobile phones while driving has rapidly increased in the US and elsewhere.
The Youth for Road Safety called for more responsible driving, urging the “government and the general public to put an end to the use of mobile phones while driving.”