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Traffic cops to keep 70% of fines

Traffic police work a Phnom Penh street corner last year.
Traffic police work a Phnom Penh street corner last year. Vireak Mai

Traffic cops to keep 70% of fines

Traffic cops will personally pocket 70 per cent of the fines they give out from January 2016 onwards, when the country’s new traffic law is implemented and penalties will rise five-fold.

The incentive was announced yesterday by the deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s Public Order Department, Ti Long, during a press conference presenting a new road safety survey from Handicap International.

According to Long, 25 per cent of fines will go towards supplies and equipment for the station where the officer is based, 5 per cent will be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance, and the remainder will be kept by the officer who doled out the punishment.

“Police who are involved in the enforcement and crack down on the crime will receive 70 per cent of the fine,” said Long.

“We plan to issue a prakas [edict] in the future to encourage and promote this measure.”

Long said the plan is intended to combat graft among traffic cops by promoting transparency.

The idea was welcomed by independent road safety analyst Chariya Ear, who said it could provide officials with access to legitimate extra revenue and end their need to resort to corruption to top up their meagre salaries.

“It will be a good idea to give more incentives to the officers who are doing their jobs,” he said.

Currently, he said, traffic cops are already given 50 per cent of the much smaller penalties they collect, meaning the change effectively represents a seven-fold increase in the revenue they can legitimately earn from dishing out fines.

While an officer currently takes home $0.63 of the $1.25 fine for failure to wear a seatbelt in a car, for instance, as of January, they will pocket $4.38 of the $6.25 penalty for the same offence.

Ear refused to be drawn into whether such a scheme could encourage officers to hand out spurious punishments in order to boost their earnings, but warned that the incentives would only work if accompanied by an effective campaign to educate people about the law and their rights.

That need for education was highlighted in the new Handicap International report, which, among other results, found that the prevalence of speeding had increased since a major survey was carried out in 2010.

According to the report, while less than half of the vehicles recorded that year were speeding, over two-thirds of vehicles were seen exceeding the speed limit during fieldwork carried out last year.

With only about one in four people in towns and cities and less than 5 per cent of rural dwellers surveyed knowing the speed limits, a lack of awareness appears to partly explain those infractions.

That led Handicap International to call for a major multimedia campaign to be launched to inform the public via TV, radio and billboards, as well as community-based awareness efforts.

With young road users aged 15 to 28 the most at risk of being involved in traffic accidents, it also urged the government to finalise and implement an already initiated grade 10 to 12 curriculum, and provide road safety training at universities.

Finally, the report called for greater implementation of enforcement, which it said could “critically influence speeding behaviour”.

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