Minister of Interior Sar Kheng has urged officials and the public not to overlook traffic accidents as the Kingdom grapples with the Covid-19 outbreak, which has seen 103 cases of infections but no deaths as of Sunday.
Sar Kheng said the government has sought to reduce deaths caused by traffic accidents through a new sub-decree, which imposes stiffer fines and penalties.
“We cannot overlook disasters caused by traffic accidents,” he said.
Sar Kheng said thanks to peace and a steady pace of development, the number of registered vehicles has increased annually.
He said although the government has made efforts to build and improve roads and educate the public on traffic laws, road safety remains an issue with fatalities increasing every year.
Sar Kheng pointed out that last year, traffic accidents increased by 854 cases, or 26 per cent, resulting in 220 more deaths, or 12 per cent, compared to the previous year.
“To reduce fatalities, the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC) will strictly strengthen law enforcement starting this year.
“Based on our thorough study, the government has amended its sub-decree by increasing fines up to five times to promote compliance and enforcement,” he said.
He urged the public to strictly obey traffic laws and told the relevant authorities to enforce them without fear or favour. He also called on local and international organisations and the media to help promote road safety through education campaigns.
“The relevant authorities across the country must strictly enforce traffic laws without any exception and properly follow legal procedures transparently and equally without discrimination.
“Conduct an investigation to arrest those who flee the scene and hold them accountable before the law,” he said.
Sar Kheng also instructed the relevant authorities to deploy undercover forces to monitor the conduct of traffic police officers on the ground to ensure the code of ethics and professionalism are adhered to.
He said law-abiding officers will be rewarded while those who violate the code of ethics will be punished.
Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP) country director Kim Pagna said while he welcomed the stiffer fines and penalties stipulated in the new sub-decree, he urged the authorities to prolong the education campaign by up to three months.
“The higher authorities need to ensure good conduct among traffic police officers who enforce the new sub-decree.
“Refrain from imposing penalties that are biased or not transparent, and avoid misbehaviour toward the public while enforcing the law. Risk factors that caused an accident, death or injury should be the focus when imposing penalties,” he said.
Pagna also called for continuous implementation of the traffic law and for the authorities to allocate parts of the proceeds from fines for road safety education.