Rise in Drunken Driving Worries Police Official

Phnom Penh’s chief of traffic police has expressed concern over what he sees as an increase in drunk driving accidents in the capital, though he said the overall number of traffic accidents in October will likely be lower than September.

“Drunk driving is increasing,” Tin Prasoer said by telephone Wednesday, explaining that five “serious” alcohol-related traffic accidents occurred this week alone. “Teenagers like drinking with their friends, and sometimes they lose their mind while driving.”

According to the monthly traffic statistics report, 52 traffic accidents, including 31 at night, have occurred in Phnom Penh in Octo­ber, compared with 63 accidents in Septem­ber, including 47 at night.

October has seen 14 accident-related deaths so far, two fewer than in September, according to the report, although Tin Prasoer did not know the breakdown on deaths and accidents specifically related to drunken driving, though he said he believes the number is significant.

Accidents in Phnom Penh between 7 and 10 pm were often motorbike-related, while accidents from 10 pm to 2 am were often car-related, Tin Prasoer said, and the majority of victims were between the ages of 18 and 27.

“We have traffic police stand every night at seven important points in Phnom Penh to be of assistance,” he added.

In order to stem widespread drunken driving, Tin Prasoer said more self-enforcement of the new traffic law is required, which penalizes drunk driving with up to six months in prison and up to $250 in fines.

“We need participation from the road users, parents and authorities to practice the law together,” he said.

Drunken driving accounts for 18 to 20 percent of all traffic accidents, said Handicap Internation­al’s manager for road traffic accidents and victim information, Sem Panhavuth, though he did not know whether drunken driving is on the rise.

“[Nighttime] traffic accidents are mostly caused by teenagers drinking with their friends,” he said by telephone Wednesday.

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