In the last 10 years – purportedly due to calls for people to respect the road traffic law couple with stringent law enforcement – Cambodia has reduced accidents by about 62 per cent, according to a February 8 report from the National Police.

From 2010 to 2020, officers have strictly enforced traffic laws and educated the public on road safety, based on the National Plan for a Decade of Action for Road Safety.

Compared to the population and the number of vehicles, the mortality rate has decreased from 13.1 to 10.1 per 100,000 people. The mortality rate per 10,000 vehicles has also dropped, from 10 people to 2.5.

Increased law enforcement, the report said, has promoted respect for the law, improved traffic order, and contributed to the promotion of national prestige.

The police have modernised their operational practices by equipping officers with radar guns, breathalysers and drug testing kits, and through the recent introduction of a demerit points system for driving licences.

“The Road Traffic Police Unit has gone to great lengths to share information on the Kingdom’s traffic laws with the public. They have also taken action against instances of corruption by officers and prevented the fabrication of false information which could lead to social instability,” added the report.

The police urged all citizens continue to respect the traffic law and drive with patience and understanding for their fellow road users.

Kim Pagna, director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation in Cambodia, said that in the 10 years from 2010 to 2020, as officers tightened enforcement of the traffic law, the number of road accidents decreased by about 62 per cent, according to the authorities’ estimation.

If the authorities had not taken stringent measures, the death toll would have risen from year to year due to the sharp increase in vehicles registered in Cambodia, he added.

He noted that from 2014 to 2015, more than 500,000 vehicles were registered per year, most of them motorcycles. The road toll was estimated to hit 3,200 per annum by 2020 – if no action was taken.

“Thanks to increased education and enforcement campaigns, the authorities have reduced the road toll to below 1,800,” he said.

“Road accidents are a global challenge, and no country can ignore them. Even developed nations invest heavily in road safety. It is impossible to eliminate traffic accidents entirely, but we have worked together and reduce the statistics to far less than they were in the past,” he continued.

He said that in 2015, there were 2,231 deaths due to road accidents, while the annual road toll was just 1,700. More efforts are required to reduce this further.

Pagna recommended that there are five important ways that accidents could be further reduced.

“We need to increase education and law enforcement. We should keep upgrading the Kingdom’s road network to make it safer, encourage more people to get vehicle inspections, and finally, we should increase the quality of first aid that is given to the victims of road accidents,” he said.