The Ministry of Public Works and Transport plans to distribute 50,000 free motorbike helmets across the country to promote safe driving.
Transport Minister Sun Chanthol held a press conference at his office yesterday to make the announcement, noting that Meng Leng Eav Company donated 1,000 helmets to the ministry, while the government purchased the remainder.
“We want to appeal to all residents to wear helmets while driving for safety,” he said. “We originally planned to distribute the 1,000 donated helmets, but I decided to increase it to 50,000 because we want to have a major impact on the number of people using helmets.”
Mr Chanthol said the number of casualties on Cambodia’s roads influenced his decision.
According to an Interior Ministry report, in the first six months of 2017, 919 died in road crashes and 2,982 people were injured, an increase from the first six months of 2016 when 908 people died and 1,867 were injured.
The same report showed most crashes involved motorbikes and that 82 percent of motorbike drivers involved in the crashes were not wearing helmets.
Mr Chanthol added that the free helmets are standard and cost about $15 each.
“We are not distributing cheap, $2 helmets. If we distribute cheap helmets, the recipients will not be happy, so we are providing good, standard helmets that can protect people’s heads,” he said.
Sin Sitha, a motorbike driver in Phnom Penh, said the initiative will likely help save lives, but noted the ministry should also be focussing on drunk driving.
“When drivers get drunk, they do not wear helmets,” she said. “Most traffic accidents involve drunk drivers. They get drunk and lose control.”