What should be done to reduce drunk-driving behavior in Cambodia?

“Bomb!!!” this explosive and terrifying sound signified the death of another person. Someone might have stepped on the hidden mines, the remnants of devastating civil war, laid under the ground across the country. Some of the victims died and most were left handicapped. It kept haunting them and scared them for life. Such a killer! Decades later, the arrival of the UNTAC flowing over Cambodia heralded the birth o


f another burgeoning influx of new disease, known as AIDS, which later marked the beginning of the lethal increasing number of deaths. AIDS was being dubbed another serial killer, slaughtering lives with no mercy. Hence, the picture of mines explosion and AIDS has been notoriously used to symbolize some of nightmare scenarios, such as poverty, homelessness, separation and hunger, all of which are the direct by-products of those catastrophic events. Cambodians’ lives were in jeopardy. Lives were also uncertain. On the other hand, those are the 1990’s stories. Things keep evolving when the risks of death brought about by the aforementioned killers were minimized in the present time. However, another form of killing arrives when the birth of another killer begins to manifest itself.

Nowadays, the number-one and cool-blooded killer is neither adventuring in the forest stepping on the mine nor undergoing sexual intercourse, transmitting AIDs, it is when we are travelling on the road: traffic Accident.

Traffic accident is described as the collision of vehicles, pedestrian, animals and other objects left on the road which results in death, injuries and property damage. (Wikipedia, 2014). The main culprits behind this phenomenon have been pinpointed. Those include human factors, vehicles design, road design and so forth. Statistically, human factors, ranging from novice driver to drivers’ sleep deprivation, contribute a tremendous percentage of road accidents and deaths. The determining factor, however, that leads to the ever-increasing number of road 3 collision is now ascribed to the driver’s mental impairment caused by the excessive amount of alcoholic substances they consume. A number of studies and reports have accentuated the rising dramatic number of road deaths and linked them to the drunk-driving behaviors. The clear linkage between them two has been highlighted and studied. Measures follow, and it is imperative that to eradicate the number the road deaths or traffic accident requires keeping the number of drunk drivers to an absolute minimum. To actualize goal, personally speaking, at the bottom line of the solutions list lies government initiatives since under no circumstances can this problem be tackled unless multifaceted measures, policies and approaches have to be adopted and implemented. The government has to formulate a number national and public policies to fight against the drunk drivers with strictly enforceable laws and regulations. These anti-drunk driving policies involve intricacy of minor measures and actions, all of which will be addressed and discussed accordingly. I sincerely believe the role that government plays is of paramount importance, and they have to wield their power to iron out this social problem through the following measures.

First and foremost, one of the policies the government has to consider is to ensure that the existing laws and policies concerning drunk driving are strengthened, and resistance to adherence to the laws will be severely punished. Notwithstanding the current laws, they are loosely abided by. The officer who are to practice and execute the law are not motivated enough to perform the tasks. Punishment does not match with the crimes. Corruptions also occur. To end this vicious cycle, it is prerequisite to strengthen the law the make the punishment more harsh and severe. For instance, a hefty fine, forfeit of driving right, suspension of driving license and imprisonment are all punitive measures to penalize those caught drunk while on the road. With legally imposed law and zero tolerance punishments, people will be dissuaded to overindulge themselves in drinking too much or driving when they got drunk for fear that they will be heavily fined or meted out with a severe punishment. Under a plausible scenario, the number of drunk drivers will be shrinking to a very large extent.

Besides law enforcement, secondly, another significant policy to fight against drunk-driving behavior is to monitor, regulate and catch the on-the-road drunk drivers. The primary purpose is to detect the drunk drivers while they are driving on the road. The sobriety check point should be established at and installed in, if not everywhere, most roadways which are densely populated and mostly crossed by. This measure could be done through the utilization of the sophisticated technology, Breathalyser, a device used to estimate the blood alcohol content, which has already been introduced to help facilitate the regulation of drunk drivers. By setting an upper limit for blood alcohol concentration, this device will help identify those drivers whose alcoholic substances in their blood are above the cut-off point, who are considered drunk and illegal to drive. This is proved most practical and effective to discourage drunkards from driving.

Limiting the availability of alcohol within the country is the third policy instrumental in combating drunk-driving incidents. This means nothing but the government’s intervention in setting the administrative system to regulate and limit the distribution, wholesale and serving of the alcoholic beverages to the public. This preventative measure can be realized through regulating the number and location of alcohol-serving outlets and controlling hours and days of the sales of those products. Setting time at which alcohol is served and moving the geographical location to only certain places would provide people gap in consuming a large of amount of alcoholic substances. When those products no longer become omnipresent throughout the country, fewer people will drink, and fewer drunk driving will occur. In addition, this measure also includes the establishment of minimum age, which will act as the deterrent against the consumption by and the sale to adolescents, and which will serve to protect the underage and adolescents group who, at their impressionable age, are highly susceptible to be affected by those alcoholic products when repeatedly exposed to. Furthermore, establishing the pricing policy on the import, sales and distribution of alcoholic products can also deter both sellers and consumers from resisting their temptation to undergo and get actively involved with alcoholic beverage business and transaction.

The forth policy to be adopted after lessening the availability of alcohol is setting up the legal framework to regulate all forms of marketing of alcoholic products and beverages throughout the nation. Ironically, in Cambodia, alcohol is ubiquitous nowadays. It is not uncommon that the prevailing Cambodian’s mass media have been excessively inundated with an inordinate amount of alcoholic products and advertisements. Alcoholic beverages are flying all over the television, radio and newspapers, acting as the main stimulus to the rapid proliferation of drunkards who have been constantly bombarded with those illusory intriguing images and news. This is a very bar to achieving a free-alcohol environment, let alone reducing the number of drunk drivers. Hence, monitoring the alcohol marketing is essential to put a brake on the mounting numbers of drunkards. This policy includes regulating the volume and content of alcoholic marketing, regulating the sponsorship activities that promote alcoholic products, tightening the restriction on promotion in relation to youth or adolescent activities, and monitoring the possible impacts brought about by the new form of alcohol marketing, for example social media. These fantasized measures, when put into implementation despite its infeasibility in contemporary market, will pave the way for the future drunk driving-free environment.

Herein lies the fifth policy aimed at raising the public awareness with the help of government to educate people on how disastrous the impacts when getting involved in alcohol would likely be. This can be done through conducting the campaign, workshop, information session and other forms of information-sharing activities with an effort to inform the likely consequences associated with drunk-driving behavior, to preach the merits of adopting alcohol-free-driving behavior and to share and spread the knowledge to others. As a matter of fact, mass media has a pivotal role in this mission. More programs, advertisement, educational videos had better place more emphasis on the negative impacts of alcohol consumption, screening the possible dangers caused by drunk driving behavior ones may encounter. Equally important, more hours and days should be allocated to publicize these problems daily to assure that people are well-informed.

The sixth and very last, but indispensable, policy to be formulated with the hope of coping up with the drunk- driving behavior is to sustain the political will, leadership and commitment of government to willingly tackle this issue until fruitful results come into existence. Such willingness and commitment can be expressed through the sustained financial, material and mental supports for executing the aforementioned plans, policies and measures. Additionally, creating public agencies, national independent group of committee, governmental institutions and other related groups to keep those regulations under proper surveillance can also be a vital mean to ensure those activities are properly monitored and regulated to achieve the desired results.

In conclusion, traffic accident has been killing a vast array of Cambodian people, some of who are innocents and kids. This tragedy would certainly keep perpetuating, slaughtering thousand lives in more years to come if left intact and unnoticed. To put a halt on it means to combat the drunk-driving behavior perceived to be the main underlying cause of road deaths and traffic accident. The onus is on government to enact the policies and introduce precautionary measures to avert the possible drunk-driving catastrophe on the road. It is heartbreaking to realize that the deaths from drunk-driving accident are tantamount to, even worse than, those of mine explosion and AIDS. It is more than enough. This cannot be solved with just a slogan or proverb “If you are drunk, don’t drive” nor “Today and tomorrow, no traffic accidents”. We need far more than that. Actions are the key to break this vicious cycle and bring Cambodian family happiness, welfare and the sense of togetherness. It all starts from us.