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Police Begin Enforcement of Helmet Law

Phnom Penh police fined 236 motorists for failure to wear helmets Thursday, the first day of new enforcement measures, a top official said.

"This morning, we just fined those who were not wearing helmets, and later on we will fine any motorist without a rear-view mirror and without a license plate," said Col. Chev Hak, deputy chief of Phnom Penh traffic police, as a guest on "Hello VOA" Thursday.

Chev Hak estimated that about 85 percent of Phnom Penh motorists were now wearing helmets, following threats of stricter enforcement by Prime Minister Hun Sen last month.

An estimated 179 people had died in 700 traffic accidents, about one person every other day, Chev Hak said, making it the leading killer of Cambodians.Hun Sen called traffic deaths a worse scourge than landmines or AIDS.

Chev Hak appealed to motorists to wear their helmets and not try to outrun police blockades, as this too was dangerous.

"If the police fine you, its only 3,000 riel," about $0.80, he said, "but if you turn away, causing an accident, there will be a lot of money spent."