Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday called on relevant authorities to strictly enforce road traffic laws, saying that a surge in traffic accidents had reached an alarming rate.
According to a report by the National Road Safety Committee, a total of 4,121 road accidents were reported countrywide in 2019, killing 1,981 people and injuring 6,141.
The number increased by 26 percent compared to 2018, the death toll rose by 12 percent, while the number of injuries by 29 percent, it said.
The report noted that an average of 5.4 people die every day on the roads. Most of the road accidents occurred in the capital, with 348 deaths, followed by Preah Sihanouk with 149 and Kandal provinces with 143.
It said the causes of the accidents include speeding, overtaking, drunk driving, and violating traffic laws. Other challenges include small-size road structure, increased transportation demand, damaged or lack of traffic control signage, lack of sidewalk management and limited law enforcement.
Speaking at the annual meeting to review road safety results last year and set the direction for this year, Mr Kheng said he believed the traffic accident rate will continue to rise this year, if the road traffic laws are not enforced.
“This figure is extreme and it requires us to take note of the alarming rate,” he said. “Authorities at all levels must take action in a timely manner. I would like to announce that this year we must focus on reducing traffic accidents and strengthening law enforcement.”
Mr Kheng noted that Phnom Penh, Kandal, Preah Sihanouk and Kampong Speu provinces will be the prime target areas for strict law enforcement and the authorities must take effective measures to reduce and prevent traffic accidents this year.
He also instructed relevant ministries to increase penalties and fines for traffic violators, especially those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“If motorists are caught intoxicated, punch a hole on their driving licence. Make another if they are caught for the second time. Lastly, revoke the licence and ban them from driving for one or two years,” Mr Kheng said. “If they are drug addicts and have more than 4 punch holes, revoke the licence and forbid them from driving forever.”
Touch Chan Kosal, a secretary of state at the Transport Ministry, noted yesterday that last year the ministry discovered a total of 732 unlicenced garages across the country which modified vehicles.
“At this point, I would like to request Interior Minister Sar Kheng to instruct all provincial authorities to take action and shut down unlicenced garages,” he said. “These are illegal businesses and modified vehicles are a major cause of accidents.”
Kim Panha, country director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, yesterday hailed the government’s commitment to prevent traffic accidents, urging heads of both public and private firms to take part in educating their employees.
“Law enforcement plays a crucial role in preventing traffic accidents. At the same time, we must raise their awareness and educate them about the significance of obeying the traffic law,” he said.