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Poor Driving Outside PM’s House Leads to Nationwide Crackdown on Bad Drivers

A Cambodian man, right, drive his motorbike overloaded with vegetable sacks as he passes a traffic police officer, center, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Traffic accidents in Cambodia declined slightly in 2017 with more than 1,700 people killed on Cambodia’s roads last year.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a nationwide crackdown on bad drivers after spotting motorists heading the wrong way down a street outside his mansion in Phnom Penh.

The premier announced the policy on Facebook, saying that a new road outside his residence, situated adjacent to Independence Monument in the capital, had become an “embarrassing road”.

He blamed traffic authorities for not installing proper road signs for people to follow.

“The crackdown on traffic law offenders this week is my order, the prime minister’s order. No-one else,” he wrote.

Run Rathveasna, director of the national police’s public order department, said driving habits were due to a lack of understanding of basic road etiquette, with motorists routinely ignoring traffic lights and driving on the wrong side of the road. “They really don’t understand the traffic law. We have been educating them and promoting it ... but they still violate the law.”

Ear Chariya, a road safety expert, said the government should “continue to promote [the traffic law] because many Cambodians have not fully understood it and, secondly, strengthen the law at every opportunity.”

Meas Ny, a social analyst, told VOA Khmer that “some high ranking people” also flouted the traffic law, setting a bad example for others.

Traffic accidents in Cambodia declined slightly in 2017, according to official figures, but the number of deaths slightly increase, with more than 1,700 people killed on Cambodia’s roads last year.

Chariya, the road safety expert, said the rise was due to poor law enforcement. “Compared to 2016, law enforcement in 2017 was not as good. So that’s why the result shows there was an increase in the number of deaths.”

Rathveasna, meanwhile, said it was “the right time now” to act against offenders. “We can’t let them get away with it easily anymore because we have promoted [the traffic law] since 2016. So it’s enough time for them to learn and understand it.”