At least 1,000 people were killed and over 2,700 injured in traffic accidents in Cambodia during the first eight months of the year, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. These figures mark a 9 per cent decrease compared to the same period last year.

The statistics were disclosed during a motorcycle helmet campaign in Siem Reap province on September 15, attended by transport minister Peng Ponea. He stated that among the year’s toll of 1,015 deaths, 1,775 serious injuries, and 1,016 minor ones, the majority involved helmetless motorcyclists.

“Traffic mishaps are public health issues that urgently need to be addressed. The yearly cost exceeds $400 million, not including the numerous social consequences,” he added.

Siem Reap provincial deputy governor Pin Prakad noted that factors such as personal vehicle use and roadway conditions contribute to daily traffic congestion, as well as crashes. He said the campaign aimed to educate travellers about the consequences of carelessness on the road, and encourage adherence to the law.

Meanwhile, National Police Chief Sar Thet has urged stricter implementation of road traffic laws across Cambodia, emphasising the need for both public education and professional conduct among traffic police.

He made these remarks at a meeting on September 14 attended by deputy police chiefs, department directors and nearly 95 professionals at the Ministry of Interior.

According to a ministry report, Thet noted a significant reduction in traffic incidents during the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period last year.

“The aim of enforcing traffic laws is to eliminate accidents and maintain order throughout the country,” Thet said.

He added that for effective nationwide implementation, education campaigns must be broad and officers should uphold values of discipline, transparency, integrity and professionalism.

Thet particularly warned provincial police commissioners in regions with high concentrations of factories and workers, such as Kampong Speu, Svay Rieng, Kandal and Kampong Chhnang.

“Negligence on the roads in these areas could result in a large number of deaths and injuries,” he stated.

Kim Pagna, country director of the Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation, noted that although this year saw a decline in the road toll, the numbers of both fatalities and injuries have risen this year.

“The human and economic losses from these incidents are tragic and show that more needs to be done,” he said.

He emphasised that the public needs to take additional measures to reduce the number of accidents.

“Enforcing laws day and night is crucial, but we also need public support for effective implementation,” he added.

He clarified that law enforcement efforts are not aimed at penalising offenders, but at encouraging adherence to rules, such as helmet-wearing for motorcyclists and seat belt use for car drivers.

Panha observed that when the Kingdom prioritised traffic law enforcement between 2016 and 2020, there was a notable decline in incidents involving bodily harm and loss of life.

“Officers should particularly focus on high-risk factors like helmetless riding, speeding and driving under the influence,” he added.