Traffic fatalities increased during this year’s Pchum Ben holiday compared to last year, but the total number of accidents decreased, according to an Interior Ministry official.
Sok Nop, deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s traffic bureau, said yesterday that 25 people died on the roads between Oct 7 and 9, up from 18 in 2009.
Mr Nop said that 123 people were seriously injured in traffic accidents, while 116 received minor injuries.
He added that the number of traffic accidents during the last three days of the festival had fallen from 125 in 2009 to 99 this year.
“Comparing to the same three days in 2009, the number of accidents is in decline, but the number of deaths is increasing,” Mr Nop said.
He said police found that 54 percent of this year’s accidents were caused by speeding drivers, while drunk or careless drivers caused most of the others.
“We noticed that this year most of the traffic accidents were caused by family cars and motorbikes, rather than by taxis or buses,” he said, adding that 151 motorbikes and 22 cars had been damaged in accidents across the country.
Three people died in eight traffic accidents in Phnom Penh during Pchum Ben’s final days, the same as in 2009, according to municipal police accident investigation unit chief Seng Chanthan.
“Most accidents were involving motorbikes. The accidents were caused by over speeding in one case, drunk driving in three cases, driving in the wrong direction in three cases and by disrespecting a stop light in one case,” he said.
Mr Chanthan added that municipal police only set up one random breath alcohol testing station in Phnom Penh each day of the festival, as a large number of locals had left the city to travel to their family homes in the provinces.
Socheata Sann, road safety program manager for Handicap International Belgium, said her program had not yet finished compiling statistics on accidents during Pchum Ben.
“We can not assume the number of traffic accidents is declining from traffic police data alone,” she said. “We usually gather data from two major sources–traffic police and the hospitals.”