Smartphone App to License Drivers, Provide Vehicle Inspections

Fulfilling a pledge he made six months ago, Transport Minister Sun Chanthol on Monday launched an online platform to facilitate the licensing of drivers and registration and inspection of vehicles, as well as a smartphone application to help motorists learn the rules of the road.

“In response to the increasing number of vehicles and the increase in vehicle registration…the ministry must restructure its system to provide service to the people,” Mr. Chanthol said during an event at the InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh.

cam photo sun chanthol
Transport Minister Sun Chanthol speaks during a 2014 interview with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The minister promoted the idea of an online registration system as a way to both make the process more convenient —requiring only one stop at a ministry office to pick up documents—and to curb corruption by minimizing face-to-face interaction between motorists and bureaucrats.

The Cambodia Driving Rules App teaches “driving theory” and processes the registration and inspection of vehicles. The app also faciliates cashless payments through Wing, Smart Luy and Ly Hour.

On Monday afternoon, the Transport Ministry’s website already listed the top 10 driving-test scores of its online “theory” students. The highest scorer, Rotanak Reth, an employee at the Kompong Speu provincial transport department, said his achievement—265 points—had not come easily.

“It’s not just one time to try this app, but so many times to get this high score!” he said in a Facebook message.

The website also lists the names and scores of the 10 worst test-takers.

It was less clear how the online vehicle registration and inspection would work, but Mr. Chanthol described the service as “a pilot project for family cars and light trucks to let citizens be able to choose and buy their preferred number plates.”

Ear Chakriya, director of the Institute for Road Safety, said that while the program could help people in the provinces get licenses more easily, it still left him with a lot of questions.

“I wonder how the ministry is going to inspect the whole work process—like with informal payments from Wing transfers, how are they going to keep track of the sender and their details?” he said.

Given that the driver’s test remained unchanged, Mr. Chakriya remained doubtful about significant improvement to the knowledge and safety of Cambodian motorists.

“Anyhow, the system will be convenient to administrative work, compared to the existing one, but it may not affect much to the road safety overall,” he said.


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