The Killing’s Roads
This morning, when I began to look at the front page of my subscribed local newspaper, a big headline indicated that a fatal accident happened at Pich Nil hill, along the national road # 4, about 105 km from Phnom Penh. The headline is written even bigger than the news of the celebration of 7 January at the Cambodian People’s Party‘s headquarter yesterday. The reason of the accident was that one Land Cruiser car attempted in high-speed to take over another Camry Toyota at the very dangerous location at Pich Nil. As result, these two cars crashed; the Land Cruiser car plunged into the more than 10 meters valley below, 5 people from the same family (father, mother, three children) died instantly and five others very seriously injured. These invloved cars were completely damaged beyond repair.
Some years ago, most of the roads and bridges in Cambodia were in desolate conditions due to 30 years of wars and lack of fund for maintenance. People also hardly owned new or modern cars, except old-model cars, bycicles and motorbikes. The road accidents were nearly unknown. With recent economic development and the efforts of the government to rehabilitate and build new roads and infrastructures across country, people could afford to buy more cars and other transportation means. The road’s condition is much improved. Unfortunately, the road accidents have been increasing from year to year, at the alarming rate. Number of people killed and injured on the roads surpassed the number one’s killers such as landmines and HIV/AIDS a few years ago. Estimated damage caused would cost the country around 200 million USD per year, not to say the impact on its economy and the social burden left behind like handicaped people, orphanage and traumatized victims .
In 2010, according to the statistics provided by the National Police, there were:
– 5,518 cases of traffic accidents (504 cases less than 2009)
– 1,649 deaths or 5 deaths per day (5 people less than 2009)
– 4,990 (47 less) seriously injured (14 p/day), light injury: 4,550 (723 less) (14 p/day)
– 6,987 motor bikes (561 less), 1,854 cars (51 less) and 510 trucks (77 less) were damaged.
Though it is down in comparison to last year, the numbers of casualties remain very high (or even highest in ASEAN countries). In Europe, Poland has the highest number of road deaths of all 27 European Union countries– 4, 572 people were killed on the roads in 2009.
Main reasons for those traffic killings here are as follow:
– Speed: 45%
– Priority disregards: 13%
– Careless driving: 12%
– Drunk driving: 12%
– Take over: 8%
– Not keeping on the right side: 3%
– Not respect to traffic law: 1%
– Health: 1%
– Vehicle: 2%
– Others: 1% (Source: Kampuchea Thmey Daily, 08 January, 2011)
High speed is the main cause for the accident. It means, the the roads are actually not the real killers, but the bad behaviors of the careless drivers which contribute the most to this disaster. Unless people start to or be forced to change their driving patterns and pay respect to the traffic laws and to each other, many people are still going to die and get injured every day. May be the newly installation radar cameras (still in the testing phase) could help to reduce road accidents.
Some foods for thoughts and action from my side:
– Strictly respect to the traffic law by ALL
– Respect to each other as drivers and passengers
– Drive carefully with the allowed speed, especially in the urban and populated area
– Police should not enforce the traffic law only for poor motorbike’s drivers, drivers of old model cars, local pick-up taxis and minivans, trucks; but also on expensive and luxurious cars of high-ranking government officials, business and rich people. Traffic law must be enforced equally, not only for the poor and the weak as it is now in practice.
– The rich and powerful must act as example and role model and must not stay above the law
– Traffic polices should be paid properly and act according to the law and with dignity
– More education material/spots must be produced and showed in mass media to raise public awareness on traffic ethics
We must collectively change the current situation to the better for the benefits of the country and ourselves. Change the “Killing’s Roads to Safe Roads” for all travelers. The change began with YOU. Do what YOU can do!