At least 23 people were killed in road accidents during the Lunar New Year holiday from February 9-11, according to Touch Sokhak, spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior. 

The fatalities were part of a total of 35 traffic accidents across the country, which also resulted in 41 other injuries. 

“Traffic is still a big issue that requires stricter law enforcement, and the efforts will not be lessened. Addressing traffic accidents is one of the six priorities of the ministry, in addition to combating illegal drugs, criminal offences, gangs, human trafficking and other problems along the borders,” Sokhak stated.

He said minister Sar Sokha consistently instructs the National Police and all the capital and provincial administrations to act with high responsibility and to enforce the law with morality and discipline. 

During the three-day Lunar New Year holiday last year, 18 people were killed and 65 others sustained injuries in road accidents across the country. 

Kim Pagna, country director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, said on February 12 that this year’s figure represented an increase in fatalities compared to last year’s holiday. 

He noted that the 2023 figures had brought hope that casualties would decrease this year, but the outcome was the opposite.

He called for more actions to be taken to prevent such accidents.

“I always encourage constant, widespread enforcement of traffic laws, day and night, with morality, transparency and equality. This enforcement is especially crucial during major festivals, during which I observe that traffic laws are often violated,” he said.

In 2023, there were a total of 3,317 traffic incidents, with 55 per cent of them occurring at night. 

The accidents resulted in 1,590 deaths and 4,515 injuries. 80 per cent of the fatalities involved motorbike drivers, with 69 per cent of them not wearing helmets, according to the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC).

Most traffic accidents were recorded in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Tbong Khmum and Pailin. 

Sokhak noted that the ministry had directed these provinces to effectively improve their situation this year.