This week is the 6th UN Global Road Safety Week so we take a look at how to stay safe on Cambodia’s chaotic roads!
Driving in Cambodia is certainly no picnic. I liked the description of Cambodia’s roads by one online forum user as ‘controlled chaos’. You might be the safest driver in the world but you have zero control over other road users whose knowledge and respect of traffic laws may be less than perfect! Not to mention the frequent potholes, incessant road works, traffic police, roaming animals and careless pedestrians you have to deal with when driving in the Kingdom of Wonder.
Traffic accidents declined in Cambodia in 2020
The good news is that road accidents in Cambodia dropped 23% in 2020, down to 3,179 from 4,121 accidents. Fatalities also dropped from 1,981 to 1,646. The less good news is that a large part, if not all, of this sharp drop is due to reduced traffic volumes as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. Let’s not kid ourselves that Cambodia has become a much safer place to drive. And let’s also not ignore the fact that the actual figures, taking into account unreported accidents, are undoubtedly far, far higher.
So how can you stay safe on Cambodia’s mean streets?
The dos and don’ts of driving in Cambodia
DO grow eyes in the back and side of your head
If you take to the roads in Cambodia you must be prepared for anything! Other road users may or may not deign to give way, stop at lights, drive down the correct side of the road, wait for you to stop before turning in front of you etc etc. The safest approach is to assume nothing and maintain a state of hyper alertness throughout each and every journey.
DON’T drive in rush hour if you can help it
To be honest, the roads in Cambodia’s main cities are busy 24/7 but they get particularly bad between 4 and 6pm. Avoid driving at this time if you can.
DO be a trailblazer and wear a helmet
You’ll definitely be in the minority but if you’re on a motorbike, a helmet is a must. Not only is it compulsory but it could save your life. Remember, however safe a driver you are, you are at the mercy of less conscientious road users. While you’re at it, throw on some closed-toe shoes to protect those precious feet.
DON’T drive without your documents
Keep copies of your passport, driving licence and vehicle registration documents with you at all times when driving. If you’re stopped without them you’ll be liable to a fine and expats are a sitting target for traffic cops.
DO drive on the right
You might get the impression from other road users that this is optional but you should keep to the right when driving in Cambodia!
DON’T just look out for vehicles
After motorcylists, pedestrians are the second most vulnerable group of road users in Cambodia accounting for 11% of fatalities. The ‘stop, look, listen’ campaign passed Cambodia by so be on the lookout for pedestrians stepping blithely out into the road into oncoming traffic.
DO drive slowly
In Cambodia, speeding by young people remains the major cause of road deaths. It is estimated to be responsible for around a third of accidents. Give yourself the best chance of avoiding a road incident by driving slowly, particularly through intersections. As one forum user put it ‘It’s every man or woman for themselves out there.’
And finally, the most important rule of driving in Cambodia….
DON’T even think of skipping on motor insurance
If you are an expat and you have an accident on the roads, it will be your fault (even if it isn’t your fault!). You risk having to pay for damage not only to your own vehicle but to those of others involved in the accident not to mention injuries caused to other parties. These costs can very quickly spiral upwards.
Taking the risk of having to pay all these costs out of your pocket is simply crazy when for a small monthly premium you can transfer all that risk to your insurer. An added bonus is that an insurance company will do all the negotiating for you if there is an accident to ensure that you receive any compensation due.
At Infinity we work with all the major insurers. Whether you wish to insure a car or a motorcycle we can find you comprehensive cover to protect against theft, accidental damage and liability to other people and their property.
If you’d like a motor quote you can apply for one online here. If you’d like to discuss your requirements in more detail, get in touch via the contact form on our website and a member of our friendly and efficient team will get back to you as soon as possible.
I started in the financial services industry back in 1995 and I am now the Country Director of Infinity Financial Solutions (Cambodia) Limited, specializing in corporate and individual medical and general insurance needs along with expatriate financial planning.