Traffic Deaths Down, But Concerns Linger

Fewer people are expected to die in traffic accidents in Phnom Penh this year, but the high number of fatalities remains a serious problem, according to a preliminary report from the municipal traffic police.

Eighty-seven people died in motorcycle and automobile accidents during the first 11 months of the year, compared to the 133 who were killed in all of 1999.

The number of people seriously injured dropped slightly from 419 in 1999 to 410 through Nov-ember of this year.

Kang Savann, section chief of traffic law for the Municipal Traf­fic Police, blamed the high number of fatalities on a sharp drop in morality among Cambodians, which has led to a lack of respect for traffic laws.

“These days, people aren’t ashamed of their bad behavior,” he said. “Young people like to spend their time driving fast and dangerous. They don’t realize that they aren’t invincible.”

El Sam Neang, chief of Muni­cipal Police, added that most accidents occurred during the rainy season, when roads are often flooded or slippery, causing a higher volume of traffic on roads that aren’t flooded.

Teen-agers and young adults made up the majority of fatalities in both 1999 and 2000, according to Municipal Police statistic official De Mao.

Young people tended to get into accidents during the day after they left school, while older people had wrecks at night after drinking alcohol, he said.

Another problem lead­­­­ing to the high number of traffic casualties, according to Kang Savann, is the large number of moto taxi drivers, many of whom come into the city from the countryside and roam the streets looking for customers.

Motos are the primary means of transport for most people in Phnom Penh, partly because of the lack of an extensive public bus transport system.

The main boulevards of the once-empty city are now so jam-med with cars and motos during the morning and evening commuting hours that Prime Min­ister Hun Sen has taken to flying occasionally from his Takhmau home to the center of the city in a French-made four-seat helicopter.

But Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sop­hara said he thinks the addition of  30 new buses will help to re-duce the number of accidents and ease congestion.

This year, the Jap-anese International Cooperation Agency donated the buses to the municipality. They  could be­gin operating within the city some­­time next year.

JICA has also cooperated with the municipality in developing  a traffic safety campaign.

An outline of the plan, written earlier this week, warned, “Traffic accidents and fatalities will continue to increase in the near future. Traffic safety planning and countermeasures must be carried out as quickly as possible.”

 

ly decrease from the previous year. But the high number of traffic fatalities still remains a serious problem, according to a preliminary report from the municipal traffic police.

Eighty-seven people died in motorcycle and automobile accidents during the first 11 months of the year, compared to the 133 who were fatally injured in 1999. The number of people seriously injured slightly decreased from 419 in 1999 to 410 through November of this year.

Kang Savann, section chief of traffic law for the Municipal Traffic Police, said the high number of fatalities is due to a sharp drop in morality among Cambodians, which has led to a lack of respect for traffic laws.

“These days, people aren’t ashamed of their bad behavior,” he said. “Young people like to spend their time driving fast and dangerous. They don’t realize that they aren’t invincible.”

El Sam Neang, chief of Municipal Police, added that most accidents occurred during the rainy season, when roads are often flooded or slippery, causing a higher volume of traffic on roads that aren’t flooded.

Teenagers and young adults made up the majority of fatalities in both 1999 and 2000, according to Municipal Police statistic official De Mao. Young people tended to get into accidents during the day after they leave school, while older people had accidents at night after drinking alcohol, he said.

Another problem leading to the high number of traffic casualties, according to Kang Savann, is the large number of moto taxi drivers—many of whom come into the city from the countryside—who roam the streets looking for customers. Motos are the primary means of transport for most people in Phnom Penh, partly because of the lack of an extensive public bus transport system.

The main boulevards of the once-empty city are now so jammed with cars and motos during the morning and evening commuting hours that Prime Minister Hun Sen has taken to occasionally flying from his Takhmau home to the center of the city in a French-made four seat helicopter.

But Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara said he thinks recently donated buses will cut down on the high number of accidents and congestion. Thirty buses that were given this year to the municipality by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency  could begin operating within the city sometime in 2001.

JICA has also cooperated with the municipality in developing  a traffic safety campaign.

An outline of the plan, written earlier this week, warned: “Traffic accidents and fatalities will continue to increase in the near future. Traffic safety planning and countermeasures must be carried out as quickly as possible.”

 

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