Nearly two-thirds of all road-crash fatalities involve motorcycle drivers and passengers who are not wearing a helmet, officials said at a press conference yesterday calling on the government to take more action to reduce road fatalities and promote helmet use.
“In 2011, two-thirds of road-crash fatalities involved motorcyclists, the majority of whom suffered head injuries. Only 29 percent of driver casualties and 6 percent of passenger casualties wore a helmet. We appeal to the government for swift enactment and strict enforcement of the draft legislation,” said Mirjam Sidik, CEO of Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP), referring to a new traffic law being drafted by the government.
“While the population has grown by 8 percent in the past six years, road traffic fatalities have doubled. In 2011, more than five lives were lost and many more seriously injured on Cambodia’s roads each day,” she said.
AIP said in a statement yesterday that wearing a helmet has been proven to reduce the chance of death by 42 percent and serious injury by 69 percent.
The current traffic law only requires motorcycle drivers—and not passengers—to wear helmets. However, the new law obliges everyone traveling on a motorcycle to wear a helmet.
“We’re hoping that [the law] will be ready to be sent out to the Council of Ministers next month,” said Kim Yidet, deputy director of the Public Order Department at the Ministry of Interior. “I’m expecting to implement it before the National Election.”
According to AIP, only 7 percent of passengers on motorcycles currently wear helmets in Phnom Penh. In 2012, 1,894 people died on the roads in Cambodia, according to the Interior Ministry.
Ear Chariya, road safety program manager for Handicap International Belgium, said there is not enough attention given to traffic safety. “The government is lacking in road safety awareness…. Compared to other problems in Cambodia, there’s a lot more investment in other areas such as HIV, even though traffic accidents affect more Cambodians.”