Police Record Increase in Deadly Road Accidents in Ratanakkiri Province

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.



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