Dangerous driving kills scores of people every Khmer New Year.
To combat this trend, the government and a group of NGOs have launched a road safety campaign to coincide with the forthcoming New Year holiday.
Road Safety Week, which kicked off Sunday, aims to raise awareness and reduce traffic accidents in the days during and around the three-day holiday, which starts Sunday, said Sun Chanthol, minister of Public Works and Transport.
Sun Chanthol urged travelers to keep from speeding and overloading vehicles. He also called on motorcyclists to wear safety helmets and for drivers to follow new traffic laws.
Massive migration from the capital to the provinces is to blame for the high rate of road fatalities during the Khmer New Year, said Meas Chandy, road safety program officer of Handicap International Belgium.
And holiday travel is made more dangerous because of drunk driving, speeding and dangerous passing, he said. Furthermore, Cambodians are just now learning road rules.
“We need a long time to reduce road accidents because most people have little knowledge of traffic laws,” Meas Chandy said.
An average of four people a day are killed on Cambodia’s roads, studies show, and scores of others are injured. That means Cambodia has the highest traffic fatality rate in the region, Handicap International said in a statement.
Last year, 74 people died during the week of the Khmer New Year. The Road Traffic Accident Victim Information System also recorded 1,340 accidents over the holiday, of which 341 people were severely injured.
RTAVIS numbers show human error caused 90 percent of all road accidents in 2007.
According to RTAVIS statistics, motorcycles are involved in 70 percent of all road accidents, and head injuries cause 40 percent of the fatalities. However, only 4 percent of drivers wear helmets, according to the group’s studies.