Gov’t Reports 29 Traffic Deaths Over Chinese New Year Period

Over last week’s Lunar New Year holiday, 103 traffic accidents occur­red across the country, killing 29 people and injuring 117, a small de­crease from the number of traffic accidents and deaths reported during the festival last year, according to government figures provided yesterday.

Him Yan, director of the Interior Min­istry’s department of traffic and public order, said there had been 24 fewer accidents during the four-day festival than last year, while there were two fewer deaths and 18 fewer injuries recorded.

Mr Yan declined to comment on the reasons behind the drop.

Phnom Penh municipal traffic po­lice deputy director Pen Khun said two people died and nine were in­jured in 11 traffic accidents that oc­curred during the festival in the capital this year, adding that the number of accidents in the city was “stable” compared to 2010.

Battambang provincial traffic po­lice chief Sath Kimsan said two people were killed and 11 injured in 13 accidents in the province during the holidays.

He said the number of accidents was down slightly compared to last year, but did not provide 2010 figures.

Sann Socheata, road safety manager at Handicap International, said she could not comment on the po­lice statistics, as they needed to be combined with hospital figures to get “the full picture” of accidents during the Lunar New Year period.

Ms Socheata said the festival is one of four national holidays that sees a spike in traffic accidents, mostly due to speeding and drunk driving, adding that as a general trend, the number of traffic accidents is growing year-to-year as more vehicles crowd Cambodia’s roads.

However, due to increased law enforcement of road safety measures, such as helmet rules, the relative share of serious injuries from these accidents is coming down, she said. “We’re still happy to see this progress,” she added.

Ms Socheata said to address the in­crease in accidents, government road-safety spending needed to in­crease. She added that an estimated $1 million is invested in road safety annually by the government and donors, while the cost of traffic accidents stands at $248 million per year.

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