Road accidents are an epidemic, frontline doctor says

'As a doctor, I can see the impact of serious injuries on a person’s working and social life and the cost this has on the family and the country'

Carnage on the road: Doctors for Road Safety have urged motorists to obey all regulations while driving and emphasised the importance of adequate safety measures during roadworks
Carnage on the road: Doctors for Road Safety have urged motorists to obey all regulations while driving and emphasised the importance of adequate safety measures during roadworks

Road accidents are leaving many with grievous injuries in what a frontline doctor has described as “an epidemic” that is harming individuals, families and the country.

Ray Gatt, an orthopaedic specialist, said clamorous road accidents captured headlines but many more people were suffering the consequences of debilitating injuries.

“As a doctor, I can see the impact of serious injuries on a person’s working and social life and the cost this has on the family and the country. It is an epidemic,” Gatt told MaltaToday.

He heads the awareness group Doctors For Road Safety, which has called on drivers to exercise greater caution on the road and urged them to observe all traffic regulations.

The group said in a statement released in the wake of two fatal accidents over the weekend that monitoring and enforcement on the road should increase. It also recommended scientific studies of the unique dynamics of fatal accidents be made available publicly.

“A lot of drivers are cautious and observe the Highway Code but there are others who need education to start obeying the rules and this is where we have to up awareness,” Gatt said.

However, for those who will continue to disregard the rules, the only solution would be stricter enforcement on the road, he added.

Driver error is a major contributor to accidents and it is not just about driving under the influence of alcohol, he noted.

“You would have thought that after Sunday’s horrific accident people would be shocked but on my way to hospital, today, I noticed at least three people texting while driving and this is scary because it could injure innocent people,” Gatt said.

He also called for better safety measures to be introduced on sites where roadworks were underway.

“I am not an expert in road safety but people have to know that all safety precautions, including proper signage are being adopted wherever roadworks are happening,” Gatt cautioned.

He also called for the technical findings of magisterial inquiries to be studied and made publicly available so that lessons can be learnt.

On Sunday, two women were killed on the spot after the Maruti 800 they were in smashed head-on into an Audi A1.

The victims are Żabbar women Graziella Mallia, 53, and her daughter Fallon, 31.

Graziella was driving while her daughter is understood to have been sitting on the back seat right behind her. The women died on the spot.

Sources said the Maruti had four other passengers inside, including Fallon’s 12-year-old son. The car is supposed to take only four people, including the driver.

An eyewitness is understood to have told investigators that the Maruti drove wrong way into the oncoming Audi.

The Audi was driven by a 31-year-old from Mosta, who was accompanied by a one-year-old baby and two children aged 11 and 10.

In the accident, seven people were injured and a 77-year-old woman is still in intensive care.

A day earlier, a 23-year-old woman was run over by a truck after the motorcycle she was riding pillion skidded. She died on the spot.

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