Traffic Accidents, Deaths Down During New Year

The Khmer New Year period was a little less deadly on the roads of Phnom Penh, and overall accidents were down in Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces, officials said Friday.

In 2008, there were 15 accidents in Phnom Penh over the New Year holiday that killed eight people and seriously injured 13, while this year there were 10 accidents that caused the death of four people and left 10 seriously injured, Phnom Penh municipal traffic police chief Tin Prasoer said.

Tin Prasoer said the decline in accidents was due to the military police and traffic police joining forces to intervene along the roads to ease traffic congestion.

“The traffic accidents decreased because of good cooperation between the joint forces and especially the people themselves helped reduce accidents,” Mr Tin Prasoer said, adding “I would like to thank the public that cooperated with us.”

Thong Sokhun, Siem Reap provincial traffic police chief, said by phone that the number of traffic accidents in his province decreased compared to 2008, but the number of deaths increased.

There were 10 accidents over the three-day holiday in 2008 that left 11 people seriously injured and six slightly injured. This year, there were eight accidents in total that resulted in the deaths of two people, and the serious injury of 11, while six suffered minor injuries.

Mr Thong Sokhun said one accident involved a strong gust of wind on Thursday that caused a tree to fall crushing a man as he rode his motorbike.

“[It] was a strange accident because the tree hit a man while he was driving his motorbike, killing him,” he said, adding that the second fatality involved a 9-year-old boy who was hit by a car has he crossed a road.

Three other accidents were caused by drunk driving and three were because of speeding, the police chief said.

Ket Sopheak, Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy traffic police chief, said the number of traffic accidents in his province also decreased. During the three days, two traffic accidents left one person dead and five were seriously injured. Last year, 19 people were seriously injured in seven accidents.

“I observed that the drivers respected the traffic laws and there was much improvement,” Mr Ket Sopheak said.

Sann Socheata, road safety program manager for Handicap International, said by that the road safety week held in early April might have helped reduce accidents.

“The government organizes this every year in the lead up to Khmer New Year,” she said, adding there is a televised safety campaign before the holiday as well.

Peo Maly, deputy director general of the Transportation Department for the Public Works and Transportation Ministry, said the ministry is compiling national traffic accident statistics that will be available Monday.

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