Nineteen people were killed in road accidents during the first two days of the Khmer New Year holiday this year, the majority caused by speeding and drunk driving, while dozens more were hospitalized with serious injuries, government data shows.
The four-day holiday began on Wednesday with a countrywide exodus of city dwellers, who packed into vans, buses, taxis and tuk-tuks bound for their provincial hometowns.
By the end of Thursday, 19 motorists had been killed on the country’s treacherous roads, a marked increase over last year, when 12 people died during the same two-day period, according to data compiled by the Interior Ministry’s public order department and released by the National Police on Friday.
Ninety-seven people were injured in 45 road accidents recorded by the department, 57 of them seriously. Twenty of the accidents were caused by speeding, resulting in 11 fatalities, while six were caused by drunk driving and four by reckless overtaking.
The worst accident of the holiday occurred in Prey Veng province’s Svay Anthor district when the intoxicated driver of a Toyota Highlander rear-ended a motorbike carrying four people on Thursday afternoon, according to district police officer Chhun Saran.
The owner of the SUV, 38-year-old Chhem Khan, slammed into the back of the motorbike on a small dirt road in Samroang commune at about 4:30 p.m., instantly killing its driver, Phat Sros, 26, his sister Phat Srey, 28, and a relative, Em Pov, 27, Mr. Saran said. A 10-year-old boy on the motorbike later died of injuries at a local hospital.
Mr. Khan was arrested on the spot and faces charges of reckless driving causing death, Mr. Saran said, adding that the driver was drunk at the time of the crash.
“It was a really terrible case because it took place on a local village’s red dirt road, and four people on one motorbike all died,” he said. “The car driver wasn’t injured even though the car overturned.”
The accident occurred just hours after a passenger train plowed into a Lexus SUV at a crossing in Kandal province, injuring all six people inside the vehicle.