Police Training Session Postponed Because of Thailand Crisis

Because of protests at Bang­kok’s main airport, a two-day police training course in Phnom Penh on implementing the traffic law, specifically regarding helmet use, has been canceled, according to municipal deputy police chief Him Yan.

Trainers for the course were supposed to fly into Phnom Penh on Wednesday and conduct the training today and Friday, as part of a joint effort between the Ministry of Public Works’ Na­tional Road Safety Commission and NGO Handicap International Belgium. But with hundreds of protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy forcing the suspension of flights out of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Air­port, the trainers can’t get to the capital, Him Yan said Wednesday.

“Since there is a crisis in Thai­land, neither the trainers, nor my relatives, can come to Cam­bo­dia,” he said, adding that hopefully the NRSC will set a new date for the training before the police begin their scheduled crackdown on motorcycle drivers without helmets in January.

In addition to the training, the program will also provide a total of 2,000 subsidized helmets to four specially selected Phnom Penh high schools, and will supply Phnom Penh’s police force with 1,890 free helmets, according to Sann Socheata, road safety program manager for HIB.

The four high schools selected —Bak Touk, Yu­kanthor, Wat Koh and San­thor Mok—were pick­ed be­cause they are in Pra­m­pi Ma­kara district, where most traffic accidents happen, Sann So­cheata said.

“We firstly fo­cus on Prampi Makara district because it is in the center of the city and most accidents happen in this district…. The students [in grades 10 to 12] are, in a high percentage, having accidents,” Sann Socheata said.

The number of people wearing helmets has in­creased from just 8 percent in 2004 to 24 percent in 2008, according to Meas Chan­dy, pro­gram manager for HIB, but the number of deaths has also increased from 4.2 people every day in 2007 to 4.5 people this year.

Even though the 2,000 helmets are not enough for four schools, they might help a little, he added.

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