Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has instructed National Police chief Neth Savoeun and the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) to work with businesses to carry out drug testing for heavy truck drivers, as he believes that many of them may be abusing drugs which could lead to traffic accidents.

Sar Kheng, who is also chairman of the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC), gave the instruction on February 9 while presiding over the annual road safety meeting for 2021.

“I suggest that Savoeun work on this issue, because most truck drivers who work for private companies are involved in the abuse of illegal drugs.

“I also request that all private companies cooperate with the anti-drug authorities and the National Police, and test their drivers. I think the numbers of drivers who use drugs is significant,” he added.

NRSC deputy secretary-general Yun Chhunny said traffic police had checked over 2.11 million vehicles in 2021, 64 per cent of which were motorbikes. He noted that more than 223,000 vehicles had been fined, 25 per cent of them cars. The collected fines totalled $2.43 million.

Throughout 2021, a total of 2,670 traffic accidents resulted in 1,497 deaths and 3,615 injuries, 2,246 of them serious. Phnom Penh had the highest number of fatalities at 245, followed by the provinces of Kandal and Kampong Cham with 141 and 96 deaths respectively.

Chhunny said 38 per cent of the accidents were caused by excessive speed; 24 per cent by disregard for other road users’ rights; 14 per cent by failure to drive on the right; and eight per cent each by dangerous overtaking and careless turns.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol was the main factor in just four per cent of accidents and mechanical malfunctions accounted for only three per cent. Fatigue was adjudged as the main contributing factor in just one per cent of the recorded accidents.

Sar Kheng said that although the number remained high, it showed a decrease compared to the previous years – thanks to the authorities who had actively taken action to strengthen law enforcement and education measures.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said the NRSC will continue to distribute reflective traffic stickers and helmets to motorists this year.

Kim Pagna, country director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP), said that to reduce traffic accidents in Cambodia, a change in people’s attitudes and increased road safety training is needed.

Both of these could begin at school, through the inclusion of traffic laws in the school curriculum. Students from grades 10-12 should especially be targeted by this training, he said.

“Most people who have traffic accidents are in the age range of 15-29. If possible, the government should include driving lessons in the national curriculum. They should also take students to meet accident victims in hospital so they understand the long-term effects of poor decisionmaking on the roads,” he added.