Moto taxi drivers in Phnom Penh should all wear helmets to prevent serious injury, officials said Friday at a seminar organized by the Phnom Penh Municipality, Handicap International and the Defense Ministry of New Zealand.
As part of a pilot program, 70 moto taxi drivers, 10 from each of the city’s seven districts, have been selected for safety training, Phnom Penh Department of Public Works and Transport director Nhem Saran said.
Funding from Handicapped International will be used to provide each taxi driver with two helmets (one for a passenger) and a bright jacket.
There are more than 10,000 moto taxi drivers in Phnom Penh, Nhem Saran said. At least 80 percent of people who receive head injuries in accidents die as a result, according to estimates by officials.
Sok Heng, 40, sells helmets for between $4 and $25 on Mao Tse- tung Boulevard. She says moto taxi drivers rarely buy helmets. “My clients are students, teachers, NGO workers and foreigners,” she said.
Several moto taxi drivers at Phsar Kandal said it is a good idea to wear a helmet, but said they would only do so if helmets were bought for them.
“I don’t even have the money to pay for my children’s schooling,” said Som Sun, a father of five children from Kandal province.
Another moto taxi driver, Kin Hy, said drivers would lose business because customers would not recognize their regular drivers if they were wearing helmets.
Chev Hak, a traffic policeman, said the helmet and jackets would help police identify drivers in accidents.