Officials: Few Traffic Accidents This Pchum Ben

Cambodians took to the country’s roads over the weekend, traveling home for Pchum Ben, but police reported Sunday that unlike previous years, there have been no serious traffic accidents.

According to Pen Khun, statistics officer for the Phnom Penh traffic police, there have been no traffic accidents in the capital reported to his office since Friday.

“Now the town is very quiet, and there has been no traffic accident for these three days because we are all good Buddhists—so we don’t get drunk these days,” he said by telephone Sunday.

However, two reporters witnessed an accident Saturday night with an injured person lying on the road on Norodom Boulevard in front of the Interior Ministry.

Upon hearing this, Pen Khun said that it would take a little time for district police to report accidents occurring over Pchum Ben.

“Here the situation is good; there is neither crime, nor traffic accidents,” said Sihanoukville municipal police chief Tak Van­tha, adding there were many accidents last year but declined to give numbers.

In Siem Reap, six accidents caused minor injuries to eight people, provincial traffic police chief Tong Sokhun said.

Should the number of reported accidents remain low, it will go against the norm of previous Pchum Ben holidays. In 2007, officials reported 36 traffic deaths and said at the time the death rate was similar in 2006.

Pchum Ben, Khmer New Year and Water Festival usually see a sharp increase in road casualties, said Sann Socheata, road safety manager at Handicap International Belgium.

“The main cause[s] are drunk driving, overloading and speeding,” she said by telephone Sunday.

Despite an apparent drop in serious accidents, traffic congestion was a problem Friday and Saturday.

“There was some traffic jam on national roads 1, 2, 5 and 6 because most people left Phnom Penh at the same time,” said Phnom Penh municipal police chief Touch Naruth.

At the Neak Loeung ferry crossing in Kandal province, traffic was backed up 3 km Saturday, according to ferry Director Seng Chhuon.

“Drivers waited about eight hours to board the ferry,” he said by telephone Sunday.

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