Mobile phones, lack of indicator use are Malta's main driving issues

Transport Minister Joe Mizzi launches the road safety council, to promote better road safety practices

File photo
File photo

Transport minister Joe Mizzi has launched the road safety council, to help promote better road safety practices in Malta.

Consultant on road safety Pierre Vella pointed out that the main issues for driving in Malta included mobile phones, the the lack of indicator use and issues like careless double parking.

"Road safety, however, addresses people on the pavement and those crossing the road, not just motorists," he said, adding that there needed to be a holistic approach to road safety.

Vella said that the newly launched council would help to try and enforce laws and ensure that actions are met with the right reactions. He explained that the problems were often caused by the wrong attitude.

"People don't have the patience to drive, or even walk carefully, and we are all equally responsible" he said. 

"One of the best ways to be safe is to plan your route ahead of time," Vella said, adding his concerns that many young drivers were not taught how to react to some extraordinary or dangerous situations like accidents. 

Vella said that very often drivers tried to race red lights and that the issue needed to be addressed and a hard stance needed to be taken to change this attitude.

He said that a short investigation into traffic light behaviour held by the group had revealed that often, drivers didn't start driving for five seconds when the green lights came on due to distractions like mobile phones, and that when the red lights came on, many drivers continued to drive for the next eight seconds after the lights changed. 

Discussing the structure of the council, Vella said that there was an administrative element,  a section for road safety education and a vulnerable users section. He added the council was made up of members from the ministry for transport, education and health as well as Transport Malta and FIA among others.

At the first official meeting ot the road safety council, Transport Malta CEO and Chairman James Piscopo said that the road safety council aimed to half road accidents locally in the next ten years. 

Piscopo added that Transport Malta had embarked on many programmes to improve and promote road safety, including the 89.7 Bay Don't Risk campaign, against drink driving. 

Piscopo added that with over 300,000 cars on Maltese roads, promoting road safety had become essential.

Transport Minister Joe Mizzi said that each loss of life highlights the need to address the reasons for so many accidents. He spoke against drivers overspeeding, texting or breaking rules to overtake traffic and added that drink driving was unfortunately a very extensive problem.

"It is important that the members of this council will come up with various solutions and proposals which we shall assess ourselves," he said, adding that creating national awareness was essential and that efforts from the general public were needed aside from better enforcement of rules.

Mizzi said that the government wanted the council to be a successful effort to reduce road fatalities.

In a video communication, FIA president Jean Todt also explained that some 1.3 million lives were lost in accidents and an additional 50 million injuries. The newly appointed UN envoy on Road safety applauded the Maltese government for its efforts to address such a globally resonant issue.