Serious Traffic Injuries Rise in First Half of Year

Traffic accidents, fatalities and minor injuries declined during the first half of the year compared to 2009, but serious injuries due to road collisions rose, according to Interior Ministry statistics released yesterday.

Serious injuries–those requiring major surgery and hospitalization–jumped 5.2 percent, from 2,669 in the first six months of 2009 to 2,807 through the first half of this year, according to a report presented yesterday at the Interior Ministry. Minor injuries dropped more than 13 percent, from 2,986 in the first half of 2009 to 2,579 through June this year, the report says.

Speeding, which the report said was the leading cause of accidents, caused 47 percent of the reported collisions. Disobeying right-of-way rules caused 14 percent of accidents, while drunk driving and general carelessness led to 11 percent of wrecks.

Him Yan, director of the Ministry of Interior’s public order department, noted the decrease in fatalities, saying the first six months of 2010 were “better than last year’s [first] semester.”

Fatalities dropped almost 3 percent, from 934 to 908, while collisions dropped about 6 percent, from 3,257 to 3,056.

Sem Panhavuth, manager of Handicap International’s Road Crash and Victim Information System, said yesterday that the Interior Ministry figures could be misleading.

“Some victims are transferred to the hospital, and die at the hospital,” Mr Panhavuth said, explaining that the person would be listed as seriously injured by the police, while Handicap International would count the individual as a fatality.

Mr Panhavuth said the government relies on police data alone, while Handicap International combines figures from the police with numbers from hospitals. Mr Panhavuth said the number of deaths is likely higher than the government’s information shows.

He attributed the jump in serious injuries to better roads, which allow people to drive faster, more vehicles on the roads and motorists not understanding traffic laws.

Mr Yan agreed that the government’s figures likely differ from Handicap International’s, acknowledging that police sometimes arrive at an accident after victims are taken to the hospital.

“Our reports are collected from all our traffic policemen across the country, so the number of casualties are not exact because [traffic police] miss victims because they are at the hospital,” he said.


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