A civil society organization head and a provincial police commissioner have warned that while religious ceremonies may provide spiritual relief to the victims of traffic accidents, they will not end the problem.
Their comments were in response to a recent ceremony which was held at a four way intersection on National Road 5, in Kampong Chhnang province’s O Kandal village of Rolea Ba’ier district’s Chrey Bak commune. The intersection has been the scene of several serious crashes, some of them fatal.
Local authorities and residents recruited the services of 33 monks from three different pagodas, with the monks leading prayers for the safety of people travelling through the site.
Yang Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said on September 12 that while prayers and rituals may offer spiritual calm, they cannot reduce the number of accidents that occur on the Kingdom’s roads.
The best way to bring down the road toll, he believed, was the strict implementation of legal measures coupled with improvements to physical infrastructure.
“Inviting people to pray does not reduce the problem of traffic accidents. Traffic laws must be enforced, and the layout of any so called ‘black spots’ should be examined to see if they can be improved,” he said.
He recognised that praying to reduce accidents in those areas may provide a reduction in emotional stress for some people.
Provincial police chief Khov Ly acknowledged that the National Road 5 intersection has been the scene of many tragic accidents.
He said that the issue was not being ignored, with several officers assigned to regulate the intersection as often as possible. It was when people did not follow the instructions of the officers directing traffic or failed to exercise caution that crashes became more likely.
“I am worried that the road has too many intersections. We are looking into ways to install traffic lights to regulate the intersection, as my officers cannot direct traffic there 24 hours a day. I have approached a Japanese organisation for support,” he added.
He understood why the local authorities arranged for the monks and general public to conduct the religious ceremony, and said spiritual beliefs are important.
“However, reducing traffic accidents will not be possible until all citizens obey traffic laws,” he added.