Moto Taxi Drivers Get Crash Course in Safety

The last in a series of three “Road Traffic Safety Training” courses was held Tuesday, as 83 motorcycle taxi drivers were educated in road traffic rules and given bright blue helmets and vests with reflective strips.

Handicap International coordinator Reuben McCarthy said the distribution of jackets and helmets, and participation in the course is a step toward registering all motorcycle taxi drivers with local governments, similar to a system used in Bangkok. Course participants have been registered in their home communes, McCarthy said.

Phnom Penh Department of Public Works and Transport Director Nhem Saran said he supports registration in order to “control all of the drivers for the safety of the drivers and their clients.”

Drivers speculated that an anticipated future increase in traffic accidents could occur because people are driving faster on newer, smoother roads. Also, there are more vehicles on the road and drivers often drive carelessly, course participants said.

McCarthy blamed “a lack of enforcement of traffic laws and a lack of knowledge about  laws.”

Motorcycle taxi driver Ouk Pich Samnang agreed. “The government and the [NGOs] have to offer education to the people who don’t know [the laws] so that they can know what is the right way to drive,” he said.

Cambodian Red Cross official Svay Kamal was there to educate drivers in emergency procedures and to show how to summon one of the CRC’s two ambulances.

Phnom Penh traffic police official Chev Hak said on Monday that 22 people died in the city as a result of accidents in March and April.

But McCarthy said accident statistics that come from hospitals often dwarf those that come from the municipality. Compiling accurate numbers is difficult, he said.

The first two courses were held in late April. In all, 240 motorcycle taxi drivers were chosen at random by the Cambodian Red Cross to participate in the seminar, which was organized by Handicap International with funding provided by the governments of New Zealand and Switzerland.


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