Concrete road dividers meant to improve traffic flow in Phnom Penh have resulted in 22 accidents this year, according to a traffic report received on Tuesday.
So far this year, two passengers have died, 23 have been injured and 16 cars have been damaged after they crashed into the dividers that have been built around the city, the report said.
Most of the accidents occurred between 12 am and 3 am and “most of the cars crashing into route dividers [were a result of] drunk drivers,” said Khieu Sarun, deputy of the municipal transportation department, on Tuesday.
Motorbike taxi driver Khun Phan, 32, said the route dividers have made it difficult for vehicles to move around the city, especially on Monireath Boulevard.
“It is very difficult to understand. Some places on the street have traffic jams because of the route dividers,” he said.
Khieu Sarun said the dividers were installed to reform traffic in the city, adding that the master plan for the dividers was made with assistance by Japan International Cooperation Agency and supported by the World Bank.
“The drivers must respect traffic rules because [traffic is] increasing every day. I have received critical letters from passengers, but our country has a rule of law,” he said.
Meas Chandy, road safety project officer at Handicap International, said although he believes the dividers are necessary to slow traffic, they should all be equipped with lights because some are not easily visible to drivers.
But Meas Chandy said it is a mistake to blame road dividers for the increasing number of accidents.
“There is more than 90 percent human error…including drinking and driving over the speed limit, not respecting the traffic light… Those behaviors cause the most accidents in Phnom Penh,” he said.
Some 5,000 meters of road dividers have been placed on city streets at a cost of $80,000, Khieu Sarun said. The municipality aims to finish installing the dividers by July, but the city will continue studying their effects on drivers, he said.
Since the route dividers were installed, at least 12 cars were completely destroyed, said Mao Sony, chief of the traffic police unit.
(Additional reporting by Yvonne Lee)