Deadly road accidents in Ratanakkiri province have increased tenfold in the first quarter of 2009 over the same period last year, a provincial official said Monday.
Police recorded 35 road accidents from Jan 1 through Monday, resulting in the deaths of 10 people and leaving 35 critically injured, Kim Vannarith, chief of Ratanakkiri provincial traffic police, said Monday.
In the same period last year there were 10 accidents, which killed one and seriously injured 5, he said. For the entire year of 2008, he said, police recorded 48 accidents with a death toll of 15, and an additional 32 seriously injured.
Nationally, 1,572 people died on the roads in 2008, while 11,066 people were injured, according to Interior Ministry figures. Traffic accident figures provided by the Phnom Penh municipal police reveal that 237 people were killed and 1,407 injured in the capital alone last year.
“The majority of people died in road accidents because of head injuries due to not wearing helmets,” Kim Vannarith said, adding that only 15 percent of drivers wear helmets in Ratanakkiri.
Drunk driving contributed to 60 percent of road accidents, while 10 percent were hit-and-runs, he said, adding that about 20 percent of drivers fled the scene by foot after causing a death or injury for fear of being killed by a mob or the victim’s family.
“Early this year, we have seen a dramatic increase in road accidents and death tolls because many of the main roads in this province are under construction,” said Kim Vannarith, “It causes dust on the road, and some drivers die after crashing their own motorcycles,” he said.
He also attributed the rise in accidents to improper use of turn signals.
Over the weekend, a 45-year-old woman, Pon Sarim, was run over by a truck after the driver failed to indicate the truck was turning. The woman’s husband was also involved in the crash but was unharmed.
“I wore a helmet but my wife did not,” said Soeng Bunnar, 25. “I think the helmet helped me, but if the driver was careful when he turned left, my wife would not be dead,” he said.