On a typical night, Van Chansophal, a 34-year-old who works in the private sector in Phnom Penh enjoys meeting his friends to drink beer after work. “Normally, I drink eight or more cans of beer at one time. I like going out to drink until I am deeply drunk. Then I stop drinking and come back home,” he said.
Van is not the only Cambodian drinks heavily after work. Sann Socheata, Road Safety Programme Manager for Handicap International Belgium (HIB) stated that drunken driving was the second most common cause of accidents behind speeding.
In an effort to address this problem, RS10 together with HIB and GRSP helped the Municipal Traffic Police established night time drunken-driving checkpoints. The success of the project was featured in the Phnom Penh Post in early November.
As the newspaper described, the checkpoints operated between 6.30pm and 11pm on both Friday and Saturday night in all eight districts of Phnom Penh. Using 30 breathalysers donated to Cambodia by Australia’s Queensland Police Service, nearly 100 car drivers and motorbike drivers were stopped, including Van. Four of them were found to have a blood alcohol content exceeding the legal limit. As a result, they were given a fine.
In the coming months, GRSP in Cambodia will support the continuity of this project alongside several other initiatives for improving road safety.
Chev Hak, Deputy Chief of the Municipal Traffic Police, expressed optimism that as the project expands the checkpoints would reduce traffic accidents and fatalities “all over the country”.
If the checkpoints have any impact on the population as they have on Van, they will certainly make a difference in terms of road safety for Cambodia. Van described to the Phnom Penh Post that he will now have relatives come to socialise with him, and drive in place of himself.
“I will try to change my habit because I am afraid that the traffic police will fine me,” he stated.
This above contribution and interviews are based upon an article in the Phnom Penh Post written by Mom Kunthear