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NGO Warns of Lethal Roads during Khmer New Year

By: Khoun Leakhana The Mekong Times Posted: April-09-2008 in
Khoun Leakhana The Mekong Times

Tourism experts have announced that visitors to the Mekong Sub-region may be able to buy a single visa for visiting Cambodia and five of its neighbors by 2015.

At least four were killed and scores more injured each day on Cambodia's roads last year but the problems become particularly acute during New Year celebrations, according to an annual report released by HIB to mark its Road Safety Week.

Road Safety Week was held in Phnom Penh Apr5-7 to increase awareness about Cambodia's new road traffic law and the devastating consequences of traffic accidents. Khmer New Year this year officially runs from Apr 13-15.

The report found that the highest number of road accidents occur during national festivals, particularly Khmer New Year: from Apr 12-18 2007 there were 1,340 injuries, 341 severe and 74 fatalities, HIB found. "Road Safety Week aims at making the public aware of traffic accidents to minimize them in Cambodia, particularly during Khmer New Year," said HIB Executive Director Bruno Leclercq at yesterday's ceremony in Phnom Penh.

The RTAVIS report for 2007, also launched at the HIB event, found there were 27,403 traffic accident victims in 2007 with 1,545 fatalities, compared to 1,261 in 2006. The overwhelming cause of road accidents was human error which accounted for 90 percent of all collisions. Speeding was the cause of 40 percent of collisions, drunk driving 16 percent, ignoring right of way 8 percent and risky overtaking 10 percent, the RTAVIS study found.

Motorcycle accidents accounted for more than 70 percent of all accidents, with an alarming 40 percent of fatalities due to head injuries. Only 4 percent of drivers at accidents were found to be wearing a helmet.

Sun Chanthol, minister of public works and transport, said traffic accidents are the single largest cause of death in Cambodia following HIV/AIDS. "To respond to the current level of traffic accidents, the National Road Safety Committee has formulated national policies and action plans to prevent and minimize traffic accidents, and ensure order and safety," he said.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Chreang Sophan said the problem is exacerbated by the number of vehicles in Phnom Penh which increases each year due to economic growth. "By the end of 2007, Phnom Penh had 512,087 motorbikes and 138,909 cars, and traffic accidents had caused damage to 966 motorbikes, 14 threewheeled vehicles, 336 cars, and 18 other vehicles," he said.

This article first appeared in The Mekong Times
The Mekong Times is a daily newspaper distributed in Cambodia.
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