Cambodian high school and university students’ perceptions’ on Traffic Issues
(where and when traffic jams and accidents happen)
By VIS STALO
All of students participated in the focus group discussions viewed that traffic in Cambodia goes from bad to worse day by day. Almost, everyone has witnessed and experienced the traffic accidents and jams. They all shared growing concerns on these two serious issues. They stated that it is very common to find traffic accidents reported on local media, in local press, and on Facebook or directly see and encounter them when travelling. They also noticed that a number of traffic accidents rises sharply and its severity becomes really extreme. The accidents are apt to take place at night in the Phnom Penh city and during holiday and festival or days before and after these special occasions in other provinces.
They added that eliminating and reducing the traffic accidents need to be more prioritized and immediately addressed. There are at least four or five people killed daily by traffic accidents throughout the country in average. In fact, the traffic accident is well known to be accountable for the highest death toll among the other fatal causes of Cambodian citizen. Additionally, it costs individual, family and society a lot with regard to lose of members, personal and public property and source of incomes, waste of time and money for treatment, placing extra burden for the family, endurance of physical pain and disability, decrease of beauty and one of significant ingredients for traffic jams. Sadly, the rate of traffic accidents is expected to continue growing in the future.
In the same vein, all participants mentioned that daily traffic jams are deemed as nightmares for all commuters and passengers especially in Phnom Penh city. Traffic jams typically happen around schools, universities, markets and workplaces (garment factories and business centers) and so do on every boulevard and nearly all avenue and streets mainly during the rush hours on weekdays. Particularly they occur in the morning from 6.30 to 8.30 a.m when people start leaving home for schools, work and business and in the evening from 5.00 to 8.00 p.m when people come back home. On weekend and holidays, the traffic jams in Phnom Penh prevail and aggravate at recreation centers in the afternoon and in the evening. Similarly, there usually sees long congestions at outskirts of Phnom Penh, surrounded by many national roads to provinces and to famous and popular resorts, in the morning from 6.00 to 9.00 am when people leave city and in the late afternoon and the evening from 4.00 to 8.00 pm when people return to the city. The traffic also gets very chaotic when the traffic lights do not work and when there are not enough traffic controllers such as, polices and volunteers to effectively ease the traffic problems.
Besides, traffic jams are dramatically exacerbated by heavy rains in the rainy season. The fact that some boulevards /avenues/ streets cannot be used for commuting because of raining flood always compels people to divert their usual roads to very crowded roads that are secured from the flood. This eventually leads to either a very slow or complete block of traffic flow on those roads. Moreover, countless weeding parties held in dry season also actively takes part in triggering traffic delays. For instance, in the evening from 5.00 to 8.00 p.m all the roads to weeding reception centers like Mondiyal, Lucky Star and Diamond Island are increasingly busy since invited guests have to travel on those roads to attend a wedding party in supplement to regular commuters.
There are some major reasons why tackling traffic jams deserves more urgent and serious attentions and commitments. The traffic jams result in longer time needs to take for travelling, being more late for anything, getting more energy drained, growing possibility of quarrels, stress as well as frustration due to some bad traffic and being stuck, increase of fuel consumption, damage of health, promoting of aggressive and selfish traffic attitude and behaviors and having irresistible temptation of violating the traffic law for each individual and deterioration of air as well as noise pollutions, interrupting businesses, especially small and medium ones, a messy and unreliable transportation system and a well-ill reputation for the country.