Cambodian traffic practices

If you intend to drive a car, a motorbike, a bicycle or just take walks on Cambodian roads or streets, please take in account the following practices. Yes, officially, the international traffic law is in force in Cambodia and there are campaigns to educate people in how to follow the traffic rules, but… one thing is on paper, another is on the streets… so for your safety and the one of others, follow this recommendations:

  • Cambodian drivers do not use driving license. It means that anybody with the possibility to move a vehicle, can drive, no matter if that person is 10 years old, has vision problems or never have been in a driving school. Technically there are several driving schools in each Cambodian province, but it does not mean that 100% of Cambodian drivers attend them. In theory yes, but few follow the driving lessons and the final exam is arranged by a dollar note. Police enforcement never requests driving license – at least it is about a foreigner to whom they would like to get some extra incomes. In particular, there is not driving license condition for motorbike drivers, so you can see children of 8 to 15 driving motorbikes on the roads, without any care for traffic rules – just because they never have been in a driving school.

The driving license in force in Cambodia are these:

Cambodian driving license

Foreigners can take a Cambodian driving license that would help you as a souvenir. When I go to my country and I show my Cambodian driving license, everybody is amazed of it. I have used it also to state that I am a Cambodian resident in some hotels.

Cambodian driving license of Batman

Note: Foreigners can take a Cambodian driving license. You can present your country driving license, otherwise, take driving lessons in any driving school…

  • Pedestrians are nothing… According to the real Cambodian traffic practices, pedestrians are not included. It means that any person walking on the street, should not do such a thing. How is it possible that having thousands of Lexus, billions of motorbikes… a guy takes the crazy idea to WALK ON THE STREET???? It includes also those running on the street. The pedestrian areas such as walking paths, etc, are not for pedestrians in Cambodia, but it is for vehicles, parking areas and even for business settings.

Hemak Cheat Cinema Phnom Penh

Do not get surprise if you cross the street and a car plays the horn for you.

zebra-road-crossing

For Cambodians, a zebra pedestrian crossing does not mean a facility for pedestrians to cross the street… NO! It is just a beautiful design to make the street more beautiful for the car drivers to be more relax.

  • Do not stop at the STOP sign: Cambodian drivers do not stop at the STOP sign. It is very impolite to do so. If you are going to enter into a road and you see the STOP sign at the corner, just ignore it. The real meaning is: GO AHEAD, even if you will crush with the cars going their way or produce a chaos.

stopIt means, actually, GO AHEAD… and try to avoid collision.

  • Bigger vehicles are always guilty: If you drive a car, under any circumstance get to touch another vehicle, specially if it is a motorbike. The real practice is that the bigger is the guilty. There is not need to discuss: if someone comes in front to you, coming from nowhere, with his motorbike, doing zig-zag to show up how good he is and falling in front to you… well… no matter how many witnesses you have in your favor, you have to pay for his clinic and the repair of his motorbike, just because your vehicles is bigger.

motorbike

  • Motorbikes are nothing: The opposite way… Cambodians who drive cars, feel that motorbikes are not real vehicles. Many of them even cannot see them. If you drive a motorbike, avoid big cars, specially Lexus… get out of its way…

lexus

If from the Cambodian Lexus drivers motorbikes are nothing… bicycles and pedestrians are fantasy…

  • Right side of the road? Are you kidding me? Yes, Thailand is left side of the road… Vietnam is right side of the road… But Cambodian is more practical: both sides of the road…. It means, that you can drive for the side of the road that would be more convenient to you…

mpPiOi

  • RcdpAEoc9Traffic lights are Christmas lights: The traffic lights are another way to make the street beautiful. You can give your own explanation to each color:
    • Red: If you have time, stop for a while and relax.
    • YellowWhat are you waiting for?
    • Green: Hope to see you soon.
  • Traffic police… who cares? It depends… one thing you must know, as it happens everywhere in the world: some persons are honest and loyal to their duty. There will be traffic policemen ready to proceed… something like this video. With the last campaigns to improve education in the Cambodian roads, many traffic policemen are really doing their work. But you will find many irregularities too.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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