News / Asia

    Cambodia's Traffic Casualties Expected to Climb

    HI-B's regional road safety officer Sann Socheata says the law that compelled motorbike drivers - but not passengers - to wear a helmet has saved lives
    HI-B's regional road safety officer Sann Socheata says the law that compelled motorbike drivers - but not passengers - to wear a helmet has saved lives
    Robert Carmichael

    Almost two years ago Cambodia's government introduced laws to improve road safety. But the numbers dying and being injured on the country's roads have kept increasing. Like many developing nations, Cambodia is struggling to match the rise in traffic with a rise in safety.

    Ten years of re-building to replace infrastructure lost in decades of war have given Cambodia long stretches of smooth roads.

    But those roads have done little to improve safety in a country with thousands of new, poorly trained drivers. Cars and motorbikes that once crawled along bumpy, pitted roads now move at high speed.

    Six years ago the Department of Transportation registered 38,000 new vehicles. By last year the number had surged to 307,000.

    Combine that with the fact that there are just 51 registered driving teachers, and the result is that more Cambodians are dying on the country's roads than ever before.

    Last year more than 1,700 were killed, nearly twice the number of deaths in 2005.

    Preap Chanvibol heads the government's land transportation department, and is involved with the safety education program at the National Road Safety Committee.

    He says Cambodia has the worst fatality rate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

    "If we compare with ASEAN, the fatality rate per 10,000 vehicles, the rate in Cambodia is higher than the other ASEAN countries. Up to 2009, the fatality rate is around 12 per 10,000 vehicles," he said.

    Preap Chanvibol says more than half the deaths are caused by speeding and alcohol.

    And in a country where 90 percent of new registered vehicles are motorbikes, head injuries are also a major killer.

    The government's approach has been to tackle those key issues.

    "We focus on the three cases - these are speed limit, drink driving and the one more is helmet wearing, because more than 70 percent of motorcycle (fatalities) have head injury. So we focus on helmet wearing also," he said.

    As in many developing nations, most Cambodians cannot afford cars so they use motorbikes instead.

    But until two years ago, very few Cambodians owned a motorbike helmet, and fewer than 10 percent anyone wore them.

    Sann Socheata is the regional road safety officer for Handicap International-Belgium, or HI-B, an aid group that has been promoting road safety in Cambodia since 2004.

    HI-B supports the traffic police in enforcing the law, since enforcement is vital. And it works with the Ministry of Education in teaching road safety to children.

    "We started since 2004, so, so far now all primary schools in Cambodia already have been introduced to the road safety curriculum. And we also plan to continue up to high school curriculum within the National Road Safety Committee and the Ministry of Education," said Sann Socheata.

    She says the most important step in recent years was the 2009 law requiring motorbike drivers to wear a helmet, or face a fine. Now more than 80 percent of motorbike drivers wear helmets, at least in the day.

    As a consequence, fewer people have died from head injuries suffered in motorbike crashes.

    But there are significant obstacles.

    Preap Chanvibol at the land transportation department says few wear helmets at night because the traffic police only work during the day.

    That will change next year when traffic police start working night shifts, which should also reduce the number of people driving drunk.

    The government also plans to amend the law to require motorbike passengers, not just drivers, to wear helmets.

    Police also have gotten new tools to catch speeders and drunk drivers - speed guns and breathalyzers.

    HI-B's Sann Socheata says, however, that the number of people dying on Cambodia's roads will continue to climb for the next decade as the roads get both busier and better.

    The best the government and road safety groups can hope for is that the National Road Safety Action Plan slows that rate of increase.

    "But through the national action plan implementation with sufficient resources, then we expect that the fatalities can be reduced by 30 percent. So it means through the proper implementation and sufficient resources Cambodia can save 4,700 lives in the 10 years," said Sann Socheata.

    If the plan is properly funded and implemented, HI-B predicts that 2,240 people will die on Cambodia's roads in 2020. That is around 500 more than died last year, but given the expected increase in traffic, it will be far fewer than without the plan.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.