Traffic Is One of the Leading Causes of Deaths and Injuries in Cambodia: Says a New Report

June 23, 2021

Phnom Penh, 23 June 2021 – today, the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a new report on road traffic accidents in Cambodia and their economic cost using the Road Crash and Victim Information System (RCVIS) 2019 data.

In 2019, Cambodia saw almost 13,700 injuries and more than 2,000 deaths due to traffic accidents – with an average of 5.4 people dying daily. This makes road traffic one of the leading causes of deaths and injuries in the Kingdom. The number of fatalities caused by road traffic accidents has increased nearly 25% over the past 11 years (2009-2019), higher than the population growth for the same period of 17%.

The report shows that three-fourth of the fatalities are motorbike users, followed by pedestrians, family car users, and goods vehicle users. Over 80% of all registered vehicles involved in road accidents were motorbikes. Most fatalities occurred on national roads and within the capital.

Road user behaviour is the main factor when assessing road accident fatalities. The report shows that once we control for other factors, the dominant variables associated with loss of life in traffic accidents are caused by the “fatal four”: use of alcohol and drugs, speeding, ignoring traffic rules, and use of phone while driving. Human errors contributed about 98% of crashes, and 16% of the crash casualties were fatalities.

The report highlights the need for emergency response. More than 80% of fatalities happen immediately at the scenes. Only 35% of casualties received first-aid, representing a decline of 24% compared to 2018. Furthermore, only 10% of casualties could reach a hospital in less than 30 minutes, while most casualties were transferred to the hospital at least 1 hour after the crashes.

Road traffic accidents impose a significant economic burden. UNDP and NRSC re-estimated the cost of road traffic accidents in Cambodia for the first time in 10 years and found this to be $466.8 million for 2019, equivalent to 1.7% of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Of this total cost, 88.8% is due to loss of life and associated lifetime earnings.

As a lower-middle-income country, Cambodia now faces the mortality and morbidity challenges that come with increased levels of prosperity. The report recommends several policy responses, including acceleration of policy development and strengthening data collection, improvement of infrastructure and regulations, strengthening traffic law enforcement (especially on the fatal four), awareness-raising and behaviour change of drivers, and action for emergency responses.

“This is the first time an in-depth piece of analysis has been done on such a large database of road traffic accidents. It’s given us some real insights as to what is associated with deaths on the road. It's not really about being young or being male. It’s about alcohol, drugs, ignoring traffic rules, and phone use while driving. In short, it’s how you behave that determines loss of life in traffic accidents,” said Nick Beresford, UNDP Resident Representative.

H.E. Mean Manvy, Secretary of State of the M.P.W.T. and General Secretary of National Road Safety Committee (N.R.S.C.) remarked that “N.R.S.C. strongly believes that the information in this report along with the findings from the study on economic cost will provide important insights for creating effective road safety initiatives and policies. In addition, this allows the Royal Government, NGOs and private entities working on strengthening road safety in Cambodia to contribute to reducing traffic accidents and the number of deaths and injuries. The reduction of traffic accidents can be achieved by factoring in causes, locations, timing, and the economic cost of traffic accidents and responding through the implementation of appropriate action plans, reinforcement of traffic laws, improvement of transportation infrastructures, and the implementation of awareness-raising campaigns.


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