Crashes Highlight Growing Safety Problem

Thirteen people were killed over the weekend when two vehicles laden with passengers collided head-on in Kompong Cham province, police reported.

The accident, and another in Bat­­tambang province in which three siblings were killed, are two of the latest additions to a growing list of road-related mis­haps.

A recent Asian Development Bank report estimated that Cam­bo­­dia loses 1,017 lives to traffic accidents and suffers more than $115 million in economic losses every year.

A man and his two sisters were killed Sunday in Thmar Koul district, Battambang province, when they stopped on the road to don rain­coats and their motorbike was hit by a Toyota Camry, district po­lice Chief Koy Kosal said. Thab Kun­thy, the vehicle’s dri­ver, abandoned his car and is still at large.

The crash in Kompong Cham’s Cheung Prey district occurred Saturday after a Nissan pickup truck with a bed full of passengers swerved to avoid a pothole and suffered a blowout before careening into an oncoming van, provincial police Chief Kong Sokhon said Monday. Twelve people were killed on the spot and another victim died the next day. Another 25 people suf­fered injuries, many of them serious.

“The accident took place be­cause the two trucks were driving too fast,” Kong Sokhon said. “The road is too good.”

The rapidly improving national road network has been cited as a leading cause of the high rate of traffic ca­sual­ties, as it is allowing a growing pop­ulation of ve­hicle owners with lit­tle or no training to drive at increasing speeds.

A package of road-safety laws that would make seat belts and helmets mandatory as well as require motorbike drivers to be licensed is in the works.

The government voiced con­cern over road safety at an Asean meeting this month, and pledged to make the problem a priority.

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