Malta is failing to do enough to reduce road traffic injuries and fatalities, and poor law enforcement continues to play a part in this, according to the NGO Doctors for Road Safety (D4RS).
D4RS was reacting to figures recently issued by the European Commission, which showed that within the EU, Malta ranked 9th with respect to the number of deaths from road traffic accidents as a proportion of the population. Though deaths on Maltese roads are below average, only Malta and the Netherlands have registered an increase in deaths when compared to 2010, while the EU overall registered a 23% decrease.
The NGO noted that this took place even though a number of factors – including short driving distances and a lack of highways – worked in Malta’s favour when it came to reducing fatalities. Nevertheless, the proportion of road traffic fatalities remains significantly higher than countries such as Sweden, the country with safest roads in the EU.
D4RS did acknowledge that there had been a substantial improvement of the Maltese road infrastructure over the past years, and welcomed the reduction in the drink-driving limit. Additionally, it observed, developments in the medical field and more investment in the health infrastructure has brought about faster response times, which can help save lives.
But “despite these advances, one cannot be satisfied with the trend of deaths on our roads, especially when the goal of the EU is to have 50% fewer deaths by 2030,” it maintained. “Law enforcement on the road remains poor, leading to infringements of certain road traffic regulations being commonplace.”
The NGO also highlighted that road fatalities were not the only metric that needed to be considered, as the traffic accidents resulting in injuries, particularly grievous ones, also needed to be considered. Malta recorded 305 accidents resulting in grievous injuries last year.
Though such accidents may be survivable, D4RS noted that they often had life-changing consequences for those involved due to the medical complications caused, in addition to the pain and psychological trauma caused by the accident.
“It is imperative that strategies which address education and continue improving infrastructure are coupled with a robust enforcement strategy,” it said.
“Malta’s own road safety strategy in 2014 had aimed for a 50% reduction of fatalities by 2024. We are still a long way off from this result but could we be still in time?”