A senior official at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport told The Post on Thursday that only 3,000 of the Kingdom’s more than 20,000 tuk-tuk drivers had so far taken a driving test during a three-month “grace period”, with only a third passing.
On April 9, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said 98 per cent of all tuk-tuk drivers “didn’t know the traffic laws and did not have a driving licence”, also announcing that the ministry was giving them three months to get one or face fines.
But Chhoun Voun, director of the General Department of Land Transport at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told The Post on Thursday that so far only 3,000 drivers had heeded Chanthol’s warning.
“Of more than 3,000 participants, more than 1,000 drivers from the capital and provinces passed the driving test and received a tuk-tuk licence from the Department of Public Works and Transport. Nine hundred and seventy-seven of the more than 1,000 who passed were in Phnom Penh,” Voun said.
He added that the ministry was urging all of its Phnom Penh and provincial departments to add further courses to make it easier for tuk-tuk drivers to take a driving test before the July 9 deadline passed.
Chanthol warned that after that date the traffic law would be strictly enforced and tuk-tuk drivers caught without a licence would face fines.
Leng Bun Thoeun, 38, the driver of an Indian-style tuk-tuk in Phnom Penh, told The Post on Thursday that he had not applied for a test.
“I have not enrolled for the test nor am I learning to pass the tuk-tuk drivers exam because I passed the test to drive a minivan two years ago. I think I can use [the minivan driving licence] as a substitute for the tuk-tuk licence,” he said.
However, Voun explained to The Post that as Bun Thoeun’s tuk-tuk’s gear and steering systems were different to other vehicles, he would not be able to do so.
The new traffic laws would not permit people to substitute driving licences across vehicle types, he said.
Mom Visal, a tuk-tuk driver operating under PassApp, said he had received his tuk-tuk licence more than a week ago. Visal, who also has a minivan licence, told The Post on Thursday that he spent a day learning the road traffic law, also paying 40,000 riel ($10) for the exam and a health check-up.
“The tuk-tuk test is similar to the exam for other vehicles, consisting of theory section and a driving test. I passed the exam and got my driving licence over a week ago. Three among 10 of my friends taking the tuk-tuk test failed the theory section,” he said.
The theory test consisted of 35 questions and required 28 correct answers to pass, Visal said. He added that those who failed the theory section would have to spend more than 10,000 riel ($2.50) to retake the driving test.
Ear Chariya, an adviser for the Road Safety Institute, on Thursday encouraged all road users, especially drivers of tuk-tuks, to enrol in the road traffic law course and get a licence for their vehicle.
“People in general and tuk-tuk drivers specifically registering for the course, learning the road traffic law and getting a driving licence will reduce traffic accidents on the road,” he said.
He called on police officers to firmly and fairly enforce the law in a transparent manner to ensure that everybody abided by them.
He also urged all tuk-tuk drivers who were yet to pass the test do so before July 9 as after this date traffic police would impose fines in accordance with the law. This would also require them to take the test within three to six months.
“Anyone who does not have a driving licence will face fines, and their case will be sent to court after the deadline has passed,” he said.
There were 1,076 traffic accidents in the Kingdom during the first three months of this year, killing 513 people and injuring a further 1,592, according to a report by the National Police’s Department of Traffic Police and Public Order.
The report indicated that traffic accidents in the first three months of this year increased 31 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The death toll increased by seven per cent (33 people) and injuries by 29 per cent (358 people).
Most traffic accidents occurred in Phnom Penh – where 91 people were killed – followed by Kampong Speu province (39) and Preah Sihanouk province (32).
On average, road accidents killed six people and injured 18 more each day.