New Year Traffic Deaths Down But Accidents, Injuries Up

The country saw an increase in traffic accidents and injuries during this year’s Khmer New Year holiday, though there was a modest drop in the number of traffic fatalities compared to the same period last year, an official with the Interior Ministry said yesterday.

Hem Yan, the ministry’s director of public order, said 49 people died in 259 traffic accidents between April 13 and April 16, compared to 52 deaths in 245 accidents during the same period last year.

“For this year there were 14 more accidents but the deaths decreased if we compare to 2009,” Mr Yan said.

There was, however, nearly a 14 percent jump in traffic related injuries over last year, from 457 to 530. Of this year’s traffic injuries, Mr Yan described 296 of them as serious, 63 more than in 2009.

The public order director said he did not know the reasons behind the rising numbers.

Data provided by Handicap International, however, suggested that a marked decrease in the use of helmets over the holiday played a part.

Despite the government’s high-profile campaign to enforce its safety helmet law, Handicap International’s Sem Panhavuth said 202 motorbike drivers or riders injured over the New Year had no helmets, 68 more than in 2009.

Efforts in Phnom Penh notwithstanding, he said. “I think in the provinces the helmet wearing rate is not as high.

“They should focus more along national roads because we can see most of the accidents with motorbikes happen along the national roads,” he added.

Mr Panhavuth said his organization had yet to compile its own numbers on traffic accidents over the holiday. Once collected, however, he expected the numbers to go up both because the data will include the two days before and after the official Khmer New Year, when holiday-induced traffic is often highest and because it collects additional information from hospitals.

“In some cases the casualties were transferred to the hospital before the arrival of the traffic police…so I think it is more accurate than the traffic police,” he said.

In 2009, for example, Handicap International reported 82 traffic deaths over the holiday whereas the Interior Ministry reported just 52.


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