Crossing Cambodia

Friday, March 23, 2007

Enforcing the law: at the traffic lights

All wait for the green light to come

Some of the Crossing Cambodia postings linked to other publications / articles during the last few months have emphasized the lack of law enforcement /road safety and exemplified these with situations at the traffic lights. Time to find out the truth.

On the crossroads of Monivong Boulevard and street 214, there are a set of oldish traffic lights. Monivong is a busy road, street 214 a busy local road. Per traffic light sequence change (red to green to red for both sides) about 150 motorcycles and 45 cars cross this intersection in mid week during mid-morning traffic. Over 7% of the cars went through red and 3.6% of the motorcycles. This was a cross road whereby traffic police were lurking in the shade, though during the data collection they let everybody pass in spite of a few passing them while just committing an offense (crossing during the red light, though possibly this no offense).
Most of the offenders were vehicles which continued to cross the road despite the colour of the light having changed from yellow to red. There were also a few motorcycles which cautiously crossed, despite the change of light having changed some time before.

Red has changed to green, but crossing vehicles (motorcycles) haven't vacated (or are not willing to vacate) the intersection

So what did we learn? Yes, ignoring lights occurs and in quite significant numbers. Dangerous? Not really, all traffic is used to the few (is 5% just a few?) who ignore the lights; so even though the light is green they proceed cautiously. And the traffic police? They are just doing their job (luv' to see their job description: a major part of your assignment is to hang around in the shade and look interested)
Watch out for the police!
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