A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport said nearly 15,000 vehicles had taken advantage of the second day of free use of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway.
Since its trial opening on October 1, no accidents had been recorded, despite the number of vehicles increasing by 62 per cent compared to the first day, when about 9,000 vehicles were logged.
Ministry spokesman Heang Sotheayuth said this indicated that motorists had a clear understanding of how to use the expressway.
“On October 2, there were no life-threatening incidents. There were a few breakdowns and flat tyres, but nothing out of the ordinary. Police officers or officials from the roading firm were able to help the stranded motorists and get them on their way,” he told The Post.
He recommended that road users thoroughly check the condition of their vehicles before entering the highway as it has only a few exits and just four rest stops.
“The expressway allows vehicles to travel at high speeds for a considerable distance. To prevent risks, please make sure everything is well maintained and is perfect working order,” he said.
On the first day, officers reprimanded about 30 road users. These included people driving at above the posted speed limit of 120kph, some motorcycles which were below the engine capacity requirements of the road and villagers who had cut fences to get access to their homes.
The expressway, which is open to the public free-of-charge for the month of October, takes around two hours to drive from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, a journey which previously took five or six hours on National Road 4. It connects Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and passes through Kandal, Kampong Speu and Koh Kong provinces.
Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP) country director Kim Pagna said that to enhance safety on the expressway, motorists and residents living alongside the new road should be educated and traffic safety conditions be improved.He said traffic officers should strengthen law enforcement, increase vehicle safety checks and be prepared to provide emergency first aid.
He said the road traffic law mandates that car and van drivers may drive a maximum of 90kph outside of towns on national roads with two way traffic and at least four lanes. He said he had regularly observed drivers travelling at 120kph, and sometimes even faster.
“On the expressway, motorists can drive at a maximum speed of 120kph in parts. I worry that some drivers will see this as a challenge and drive even faster. This could lead to serious consequences,” he added.
Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang said on October 3 that following the opening of the expressway, traffic across the province on National Road 4 was noticeably lighter. He said domestic traffic within the province remained the same, but estimated a drop of up to 50 per cent of vehicles passing through.
“I have observed the public using the expressway, and am pleased that they seem to be doing so responsibly. There were one or two vehicles which broke down, but our teams were able to help them. I think as long as drivers follow the instructions, they will all save travel time and money,” he added.