Police Set to Use New Trucks to Pursue Lawbreaking Motorists

Ahead of the enforcement of a stricter traffic law in January, the National Police have acquired a fleet of powerful new pickup trucks to pursue speeding motorists and other infractors, officials said Wednesday.

The new traffic law contains harsh penalties for speeding and drunk driving, and the 25 Mazda BT-50 trucks will be used to apprehend offending drivers when police begin enforcing the law, which was passed in December, said Run Rathveasna, director of the National Police’s order department.

“The 25 Mazda pickup trucks will contribute to policing traffic issues,” he said. “We will do as they do in the U.S.: When somebody violates the law, we will chase them and stop them.”

Lieutenant General Rathveasna said that the trucks—which arrived in Cambodia on Wednesday—were a gift from National Police commissioner Neth Savoeun and that the roughly $40,000 vehicles would be equipped with sirens ordered from China. He said he did not know whether General Savoeun paid for the vehicles out of his own pocket.

In Australia, laws have slowly changed to limit the speeds at which police can chase another vehicle due to the danger posed to those involved and others on the road. In June, the state of Victoria completely banned the pursuit of motorists for traffic offenses, limiting police to engage only in “imperative pursuits” in which suspected criminals pose a serious threat to citizens.

Contacted Wednesday, Ear Chariya, director of NGO Handicap International, which deals extensively with road safety, said that police should use the new fleet of Mazdas cautiously.

The new trucks, he said, would assist police in hit-and-run cases, which have become all too common, but warned that chases could lead to more carnage on the road.

“This tool could be a positive or a negative,” he said of the Mazdas, adding that drivers of the pickups should be trained to chase other vehicles safely.

(Additional reporting by Matt Blomberg)

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