Slow drivers don’t cause accidents, over-speeding does

Contrary to the claims of the people commenting on the above-mentioned discussion, no, no one ever caused an accident by exercising caution...

In April, a traffic accident in Mgarr left two dead and seven injured
In April, a traffic accident in Mgarr left two dead and seven injured

  • Ten-year-old boy injured in Mosta crash
  • Man injured after falling off motorcycle in Mosta
  • Elderly woman hit by a vehicle in Gozo
  • Motorcyclist crashes into wall in Siggiewi
  • Motorcyclist and pillion rider injured in tal-Balal
  • Woman grievously injured after car overturns in Zebbug
  • Elderly man hospitalised after car overturns in Mgarr
  • Woman grievously injured after being hit by car in Sliema

The above is a list of accidents which have made the news since Sunday. Although the cause of the accidents is never given, I would hazard a guess that some form of negligence, especially driving too fast, is one of the main causes.

If I needed any confirmation that my guess was right, I got my answer from a recent discussion on Facebook.

A man asked why “everyone” was suddenly driving at 40 kph. The discussion quickly turned into an onslaught of criticism aimed at these slow drivers who, according to some, are those who are actually causing the accidents because they make other people lose their temper and flip. This is probably the most incredulous, convoluted type of reasoning I have ever heard, and is on the same lines as those who say, “I hit her because she provoked me”.  

Now, apart from wondering where all these supposedly “slow drivers” actually are (because all I ever seem to see are drivers on steroids), it is the mindset behind this reasoning which I really found mind-boggling. 

Many of those complaining, seemed to think it is absolutely justified for them to blow their top, lash out and overtake the ‘slow’ driver by going as fast as possible. Everyone is in a mad hurry and you see this every day; if you dare wait a millimetre of a second too long when a light is about to turn green, you are immediately regaled with a deafening cacophony of horns. Those driving along within the legal speed limit are also bound to find some crazy driver coming at full speed from behind and demanding the car in front of them moves over so they can overtake, and swearing like a maniac if they don’t.  

Main roads have speed limits of between 60 - 80 kph, while in areas where roadworks are taking place and in some built-up residential areas the signs say 35 - 40kph. Yet I see more people over-speeding than those who adhere to the speed limit. What is the matter with slowing down?

Contrary to the claims of the people commenting on the above-mentioned discussion, no, no one ever caused an accident by exercising caution, because the ones that are flipping their cars over, crashing into barriers, colliding into other cars, injuring and sometimes killing pedestrians, passengers and themselves, are those who think they are taking part in some kind of video game. From the discussion, I detected a macho vibe (even among the women) by those who feel that driving carefully is for nerds and wimps while careening down the road in a tearing hurry is a sign that one is a badass.

On another note, it cannot be stressed enough that urgent educational campaigns need to be carried out about using an indicator when crossing from one lane to another, especially in the new five-lane road at Aldo Moro, where some drivers seem to think that it’s perfectly normal to drift between lanes without any warning. If we do not want a multiple car pile-up, Transport Malta, the Road Safety Council and the Traffic Police need to get their acts together now. Once the Marsa flyovers are in place, drivers need to start choosing their lane early, so this will become even more imperative. This stretch of road is also too much of a temptation to speed for those who think that going full throttle in Marsa is some kind of ultimate high.

The fact is, speeding won’t get you to your destination any faster (how much time can you possibly gain without hitting traffic - five minutes?), and if you are speeding because you are late, well you just need to leave home earlier. It’s always preferable to never arriving at all, or to going ‘home’ in a casket.

It won’t ever happen to me

It occurred to me while writing this that the cause and effect of reckless driving which is leading to all these road accidents can be compared to the recent news that Malta has the second-highest rate of syphilis in Europe.

Just like people would be safer on the roads if they simply slowed down, wore their seatbelts, didn’t drink and drive, and didn’t use their phones, so too would they be protecting themselves better by taking more precautions before being intimate. Our high rate of STDs is not because there is not enough sex education (there is) but because people like to live on the edge and take risks in the firm belief that, “it won’t ever happen to me”. Being cautious and taking the necessary measures are for others (for which read, wimps) and the same applies to wearing condoms, as it does is to driving safely.

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