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Traffic accidents cost 1.7% of GDP

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A man is injured in a road accident in Tuol Svay Prey commune of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang district on June 22. Heng Chivoan

Traffic accidents cost 1.7% of GDP

The cost of road traffic accidents in Cambodia was found to be $466.8 million for 2019, or 1.7 per cent of annual Gross Domestic Product, according to a National Road Safety Committee (NRSC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) press release on June 23.

The report on the re-estimated cost of traffic accidents in Cambodia was the first in 10 years.

The press release said that of the total cost, 88.8 per cent is due to loss of life and associated lifetime earnings.

The NRSC and UNDP launched this updated report on road traffic accidents in Cambodia and economic impact using the Road Crash and Victim Information System (RCVIS) 2019 data.

It added that deaths caused by traffic accidents had increased nearly 25 per cent from 2009 to 2019, higher than the population growth of 17 per cent for the same period.

“Three-quarters of fatalities are motorbike users, followed by pedestrians, family car users, and goods vehicle users. Over 80 per cent of all registered vehicles involved in road accidents were motorbikes. Most fatalities occurred on national roads and within the capital.” The report revealed.

Behaviour is the main contributor when assessing fatalities, and there are four factors that cause deaths: use of alcohol and drugs, speeding, ignoring traffic rules, and using phones while driving. Human error caused about 98 per cent of crashes, and 16 per cent of the accident victims died.

The report highlights the need for a faster emergency response.

“More than 80 per cent of fatalities occur at the scene. Only 35 per cent of casualties received first-aid, representing a decline of 24 per cent compared to 2018,” the report said. “Furthermore, only 10 per cent of casualties could reach a hospital in less than 30 minutes, while most casualties reached hospital at least 1 hour after an accident.”

Nick Beresford, UNDP resident representative said in the press release that this is the first time a thorough analysis has been completed on such a large database of traffic accidents.

“It’s given us some real insights as to what is associated with deaths on the road. It is not really about being young or being male. It’s about alcohol, drugs, ignoring traffic rules, and phone use while driving. In short, it is behaviour that determines loss of life in traffic accidents,” said Nick Beresford.

Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state and NRSC general secretary Mean Manvy, said that the NRSC strongly believes that the information in this report along with the findings from the study on economic cost will provide important insights for making effective road safety initiatives and policies.

“This allows the Royal Government, NGOs and private entities working on strengthening road safety in Cambodia to contribute to reducing traffic accidents and the number of deaths and injuries.” she said.

The reduction of traffic accidents can be achieved by factoring in cause, location, timing, and the economic cost of accidents and responding through the implementation of action plans, reinforcement of traffic laws, improvement of transportation infrastructure, and the implementation of awareness-raising efforts, said Manvy.

In 2020, there were a total of 3,179 traffic accidents, a 23 per cent decrease of 942 from the total of 4,121 accidents which occurred in 2019, according to the report of Interior Ministry issued earlier in 2021.

It said the reduction in traffic accidents in 2020 has lowered the number of fatalities by 335, down 17 per cent from 2019 when accidents claimed the lives of 1,981 people. In 2020, the death toll has dropped to 1,646. The number of accident-related injuries also decreased by 1,455, or 24 per cent, from 6,141 to 4,686.

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