The Interior Ministry’s Traffic Police Department yesterday called on motorists to refrain from fleeing accident scenes.
The call was made amidst concerns regarding the death of a university student in a hit-and-run incident last week on Street 228 in Tuol Kork district.
The driver fled the scene, and news of the incident garnered national attention, prompting Prime Minister Hun Sen to call the driver “amoral”.
Speaking at a press conference at the Council of Ministers yesterday, Traffic Police Department director Lieutenant General Run Roth Veasna said the law holds motorists accountable for any traffic accident they cause.
Lt Gen Roth Veasna noted that motorists flee scenes of accidents because they are afraid of being beaten by a mob.
“Motorists need to be responsible for any incidents they cause,” he said. “I am aware that motorists flee the scene because they are afraid of being beaten.”
“I call on the public not to judge and turn drivers into victims – thus creating a new offence,” Lt Gen Roth Veasna added.
Sok Pheng, deputy president of the Council of Minister’s Council of Jurists, said drivers tend to flee after sensing danger.
Mr Pheng said motorists flee not to escape being held accountable, but because they fear for their safety.
“Based on the situation, motorists could evacuate themselves from the scene, but they must appear later to reach a solution,” he said. “I would like to alert the public that mob justice is an intentional crime.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said traffic accidents remain a leading cause of death, adding that they pose a challenge to national development.
Mr Siphan said traffic accidents must be reported to local authorities. He noted that photos and footage of vehicles and number plates of those involved in accidents are essential for police investigations.
“I appreciate people for using social media to share and spread incidents,” he said. “This helps police tackle issues and bring justice to victims.”
“I call on people to report every detail of traffic accidents so police can identify those who break traffic laws,” Mr Siphan added.
Ear Chakrya, director of the Traffic Safety Institution, said the government must prepare better mechanisms to tackle traffic problems and prevent mob justice.
“The government must strengthen the law, and raise awareness and the understanding of people regarding traffic laws,” Mr Chakrya said. “I notice that in recent years, social media users tend to respond, but this is not a real mechanism.”
According to the Traffic Police Department, traffic accidents killed more than 200 people in the first three months of this year.
On Sunday, Transport Minister Sun Chanthol said accidents cost the Kingdom $350 million annually.
Mr Chanthol noted that 78 percent of deaths in traffic accidents were caused because the driver did not wear a helmet.
“All drivers, please do not drive over the speed limit,” he said. “Those on motorbikes, please wear a helmet.”
According to a report by the National Police’s public order department, traffic accidents killed 1,761 people and injured 4,771 last year.