No family should be told that their loved ones are not coming back home after being involved in a car crash. However, this is reality whereby there were 22 deaths on the Maltese roads last year.
Similarly to the European situation, road traffic collisions were the leading causes of death amongst adolescents and young adults (15-29 years) in Malta in 2016, accounting for 26% of deaths in that age group. Although overall mortality rates due to road traffic accidents are lower than the EU average, the rates have declined much more steeply in the EU average with an increase in 2013 and 2016 in Malta. Number of deaths in pedestrians and land transport vehicles except for motorcycles have remained relatively stable since the year 2000. However, 2016 saw a sharp rise in deaths of motorcycles riders.
Deaths due to traffic accidents are much more common in males. Pedestrian deaths occur more frequently amongst the older age groups whilst motorcycle and car fatalities are more common amongst the younger age groups.
Road traffic fatalities represent just the tip of the iceberg. According to information published by the National Statistics Office in Malta, the number of reported traffic collisions reached 15,245 in 2016 of which about 12% resulted in an injury. Casualties due to road traffic accidents reach a peak in the younger age groups.
United Nations Global Road Safety Week
Many countries all over the word joined the global movement of the United Nations Global Road Safety Week in May. The aim of this initiative is to increase understanding of the dangers of speed and generate action on measures to address speed, thereby saving lives on the roads. Malta has joined this initiative to enhance awareness and get all stakeholders together for action to save lives on the roads.
In 2011 the United Nations declared a Decade of Action for Road Safety, which targeted the stabilisation and then reduction of the number of global road traffic deaths. On 15 April 2016, the UN General Assembly and its member states adopted a resolution to improve global road safety. The resolution renews the call for governments to lead the activities of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020. In line with the global plan for the Decade of Action, member states are invited to adopt comprehensive legislation on key risk factors, including speeding, drinking and driving, failure to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts and child restraints, improving the safety of vehicles and roads, and strengthening emergency trauma care for victims of road traffic crashes. Targeted social marketing campaigns to raise awareness and change road user behaviour are also requested.
Changing road user behaviour is a critical component of the holistic Safe Systems approach. The main risk factors for road traffic collisions are speed, distracted driving: use of mobile phones, drink–driving, driving under the influence of drugs and failure to use helmets, seat-belts and child restraints.
Enforcement of Speed Laws
The focus of the United Nations campaign is on speed. Enforcement of speed laws is essential to reduce road traffic injuries. Countries successfully reducing road traffic deaths have done so by prioritising safety when managing speed. Among the proven strategies to address speed include building or modifying roads to include features that calm traffic; establishing speed limits to the function of each road; enforcing speed limits; installing in-vehicle technologies and raising awareness about the dangers of speeding.
Road Safety Strategy
Malta has taken road safety as a priority area. The Road Safety Strategy was launched in 2014 by the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure. It called for a joint effort to tackle this issue. The Road Safety Council was set up as an intersectoral group with stakeholders from Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure, Ministry for Health, Ministry for Education, Malta Police Force, Civil Protection Department, Intelligent Transport Systems Malta, Touring Club Malta, Malta Insurance Association, Malta Motorsport Federation, Motoring Schools Association, Local Councils Association, the Red Cross, KNDP, the Commissioner for Children, Two Wheeler Foundation, Bicycling Advocacy Group Malta/Malta Cycling Federation, Ghaqda Zwiemel u Kultura and the Assocjazzjoni tal-Anzjani.