The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has begun the rollout of 300 handheld devices that will enable traffic police officers to instantly issue fines and add demerit points to driver’s licences. The devices, which are still in the trial stage, have been sent to police in all 25 capital and provinces.

Him Yan – deputy National Police chief and vice-president of the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC) – chaired an April 4 meeting to introduce the machines.

“The purpose of this meeting is to distribute these new tools to our officers and to train them in their use. These devices will make it easier for them to record and access data about fines and demerit points while on patrol,” he said.

During the meeting, he urged officers to embrace the practical uses of the new technology – especially traffic officers, who would be expected to employ the devices as they patrolled the expressways of the Kingdom.

He added that in order to prevent traffic accidents, it was necessary to punish those who commit traffic offences, to catch those who escape and to educate the public effectively.

Heang Sotheayuth, director of the ministry’s Department of Information Technology and Public Relations, told The Post that the devices had been distributed by national authorities to the provincial level, and it was expected that officers at the district level would soon be practicing with the new technology.

He said the transport ministry and the Ministry of Interior had worked together to set the system up.

“This tool is very easy to use. Officers can scan a driver’s licence and know its history – whether the licence has any points remaining, or whether the driver has unpaid fines, for example. The system’s software also provides guidelines for fines and point deductions for a wide selection of traffic offences,” he said.

He said when a fine is issued, or if outstanding fines were discovered, the device would print a ticket explaining the nature of the offence and the amount of the fine or demerit points. The tickets also detailed where fines could be paid – although there is also a mobile payment app available, for convenience.

One of the devices traffic police officers will use to deduct points from driving licences. MPWT

Sotheayut believed the point deduction programme – combined with fines – would contribute to reducing traffic accidents.

“We are confident it will work, because fines alone will not. For example, a fine of 100,000 riel [$25] would cause those with limited means to think twice, whereas a wealthy person might only find it a minor inconvenience, even if they had to pay it several times a day. Introducing the demerit points system solves this problem,” he said.

“A clean licence has 12 points. If all 12 points the deducted, the licence will be suspended – so even if you can afford a luxury car, you will not be able to drive it. People who are caught driving without licences face even harsher penalties, so we are confident that the fear of losing licence points will improve people’s behaviour on the roads,” he said.

He said that at present, officers would test the device, with their official introduction to be announced later.

“The system is ready, but the topic of score deduction is a hot issue. We are examining every aspect of the scheme, so that we can predict any issues that might come up, before they enter service.

Lim Sokchea, a senior adviser to the Coalition for Road Safety, has called for a point deduction programme in the past, saying it would increase driver’s awareness and reduce accidents.

“It’s part of promoting safer driving. Drivers will pay careful attention to what they are doing behind the wheel, because they will know that a mistake could have practical consequences. In addition, there should be some offences that result in the instant loss of a driving licence,” she added.