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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora