Crossing Cambodia

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Getting a head start: quiet revolution?

Phnom Penh authorities are getting a head start on the traffic law by issuing a decree whereby as of November 2006 motorists (=drivers of motorcycles):
  • 'must use lights and wing mirrors'.
  • 'have until the end of the month to comply of face unspecified means of "correction".
This according to a cited article of dpa on the KI site, the DaS site also delves into this decree. As many motorists currently ride without lighting and have no mirrors at all, this suggests a quiet revolution. Something similar (all motorists needing to posess mirrors) was introduced in the Lao PDR, two years ago. As the Lao are more law abiding citizens and the authorities more law enforcing enclined, this resulted in an acute shortage of mirrors, resulting in higher prices and motorists installing not so wide car-mirrors which somehow met the requirement but could not be used. No destinct difference occured in the driving style ...
Anyway the same seems to be happening in Phnom Penh, prices for mirrors have doubled,
'though there was little sign that the decree was yet being taken seriously as almost no mirrors were in evidence on the motorbikes weaving through Phnom Penh's chaotic traffic'.

Why are there no mirrors installed on motorcycles? In Laos this was due to a forward looking mentality and it was believed that mirrors could reveal ghosts. Feng shui? Here in Cambodia:
'mirrors are often seen as something that real men don't use. "Most drivers with mirrors are women. Women use them to touch up make-up," one skeptical officer, whose own private bike does not sport mirrors, said'.

The Details are Sketchy site concludes:
'Clearly, something should be done to get a handle on Phnom Penh’s anarchic traffic. But requiring wing mirrors and indicator lights seems about as likely to work as, say, requiring drivers to have a working speedometer. Which is to say, not one bit. Because the real problem is not a lack of wing mirrors — or indicator lights, for that matter — it’s that people have nothing but contempt for traffic laws and the police officers that occasionally try to enforce them'.

Well said. From a population which even disregards traffic lights backed up with traffic police directed instructions not much can be expected. How about focussing on enforcing current regulations?
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