Road accidents killed nearly 150 people in February, prompting Minister of Interior Sar Kheng to renew calls for people to respect the rules of the road – and one another.

According to a report posted on Sar Kheng’s Facebook page on March 10, there were 256 reported accidents in February, leaving 143 people dead and another 349 injured, 219 of them serious.

This did compare favourably with January, when there were 87 more accidents and 52 more deaths. However, when compared to February 2021, the rate of accidents had increased fivefold.

“Traffic accidents remain a serious challenge to the Kingdom, and take far too high a toll on the people,” the report said.

Reflecting on the causes of accidents, officials said the biggest problems were people who disregarded the law, such as those who sped or drove recklessly, failed to give way and operated vehicles while under the influence.

Sar Kheng urged relevant institutions to increase the provision of adequate traffic lights and suggested that signs be mounted along roads to remind and alert drivers to obey the law and be mindful of causing accidents.

“Once again, I call on our compatriots to respect the traffic laws. Please, travel with caution and tolerance. If we all focus on reducing risk-taking behaviour, we will reduce the risk to the lives of our own friends and families,” he said.

“I also remind all of the officers who enforce traffic laws to practise zero-tolerance enforcement – It is your duty to protect the safety and lives of the public.

Kim Pagna, director of the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, agreed that traffic accidents in the country have become more of a cause for concern than Covid-19, as the former claimed more lives while the latter caused no deaths at all some days.

“Sar Kheng’s comment on road signs raises some good points. The public needs more information in some cases. How fast can a bend been taken at safely, for example, or which roads is it forbidden to overtake on?” he said.

Pagna added that the consistent law enforcement remained the most important tool to effect behavioural change. The installation of traffic signs should also be considered, especially in locations that frequently see accidents.