A campaign to raise public awareness about the dangers of driving while drunk or motorcycling without a helmet was to start today ahead of a traffic police crackdown next month, officials said.
The three-month crackdown beginning in October aims to strengthen law enforcement against drunk driving and the failure to wear helmets, which are two leading factors in road deaths, said Men Chansokol, deputy director of the Public Works and Transport Ministry’s land transport department.
“From Oct 1 we will have a crackdown during the day and night in eight districts in Phnom Penh and in Kandal and Kompong Speu provinces,” Ms Chansokol said. Twenty-five breathalyzers are being shipped in for use during the initiative, which is part of the Road Safety in 10 Countries Project funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, she said.
Chev Hak, deputy chief of the municipal traffic police, said that currently the capital’s traffic police only had three breathalyzers, and a previous crackdown on drunk driving was suspended due to the shortage.
“Every two days, one person dies from traffic accidents on average in Phnom Penh. This is a huge tragedy for us,” Mr Hak said. “We are putting all our efforts into restricting drivers who drink alcohol then drive.”
Kong Sovann, technical officer for road safety at the World Health Organization, said a public awareness campaign by the Health Ministry and partner organizations was to start today to convey the dangers of drunk driving and not wearing helmets via leaflets, posters, banners, TV slots and the radio.
“Most people do not know the risks of drinking and driving…. During the daytime about 90 percent of people wear helmets but this goes down at nighttime,” Mr Sovann said, noting that 25 police checkpoints would operate from 6 pm to 11 pm at different locations each night starting in October.
Drivers registering 0.4 milligrams of alcohol or more per liter of breath can be sentenced to between six days and six months in prison and fines of between 25,000 riel, or about $6.25, and 1,000,000, or about $250.
(Additional reporting by Hul Reaksmey)