Here are 9 things that create chaos on the roads and lead to traffic accidents in the capital city of Cambodia:
Driving license: Most Cambodian drivers have never been to a driving school or hold a driving license. As long as they own a vehicle and can use a steering wheel and accelerator then they feel ready to drive. Having vision problems or other disability is not a problem for drivers in this country. Nor is age a problem, you will often see people under the age of 18 years old driving.
Not respecting the traffic lights: to be honest, most Cambodian people see traffic lights as a decoration that makes the road look prettier. Many people don’t respect the lights and will ride straight through. If the traffic police catch them, they would be fined a minimum 5,000 Riels ($1.25) for a mistake, of course, the police would not give you the ticket fine for this price. Foreigners would be charged more depending on what the traffic policeman wants to charge. If you are a journalist or a big man working for the government then the police may be more lenient.
STOP sign means nothing: Phnom Penh STOP signs exist in some places; however, you would hardly find someone who stops when seeing the STOP sign. Most often they GO AHEAD instead of stopping.
Big vehicles are the kings on the road: If the drivers own big cars, indicating wealth, then they are the kings on the road so they believe that the laws don’t apply to them.
Using smartphone when driving: Cambodians love smartphones and it is difficult for them to live without them. They need to go on their Facebook pages, or talk on the phone for most of the time so using a smartphone while driving is a MUST and because of this, the drivers lose their concentration. Sometimes the drivers go so slow forget that there were others driving behind. Other times they may drift over into other lanes without looking, as they are not concentrating on the road.
Road lanes used as parking areas or as a place to set up a mobile business: Cambodians use the edges of the roads as their personal parking areas or business areas. That is why the road becomes smaller. Moreover, the zebra pedestrian crossing is viewed as another decoration of the roads to make the drivers feel relaxed.
The wearing helmet does not look sexy: Cambodian people only wear the helmet because of they afraid that the police would fine them if they get caught. When the sun goes down and the police gone back home helmet is too hot for them to wear so they ride their bikes without a helmet without caring about personal safety.
Driving when they drunk: At night time we can often see drunk drivers weaving in and out of lanes. Sometimes they have even hit the traffic barriers and even electric pylons.
Cambodians drive on both sides of the roads: While neighboring countries like Thailand drive on the left side and Vietnam drive on the right side, in Cambodia people choose which direction they will use depending on how fast it will let them reach their destination. When driving in Cambodia we must constantly anticipate that someone will be going the wrong way down a street and coming towards us beeping their horns telling us to let them through, as though we are the ones doing something wrong.
To solve these problems Cambodian drivers simply require basic drivers education. This is a common rule in most developed countries and there is a direct correlation between drivers education versus traffic accidents. In those countries, you are required by law to pass an official test before you are allowed to get behind the wheel.
It would not be difficult for the Government to introduce compulsory education and stricter laws that would penalize drivers who blatantly flaunt the traffic laws.