Several motorcyclists have warned that poorly designed crash barriers all over the country pose a danger to their safety.

Their warning comes as traffic deaths soar, reaching a 26-year high for the first half of the year. Eighteen people have already died in traffic-related accidents in 2022 amid calls for more to be done to make roads safer.  

Sharp guardrail endings and small spaces between barrier endings and other hard infrastructure such as poles are particularly dangerous, motorcyclists say.

Exposed crash barrier ends can be “like crashing into the sharp edge of a knife,” motorcyclist Matthew Cremona said.  

In areas where space has been left between crash barriers, and hard structures such as poles lie in between, infrastructure can turn into a grater for motorcyclists.

“These designs mean you could be heading for the small space in between,” Sacha Peppermans, another biker, said.  

“A body in motion will remain going forward. Seeing that the space is smaller than the body being propelled towards it means that you are basically being pushed into a funnel.”

A 2015 study by the Swedish Motorcyclists Association (SWA) says guardrails with unprotected posts and protruding parts lead to the most serious injuries. Smooth barriers without unprotected posts provide less risk of injury.

Space underneath the crash barrier beam can also be dangerous. Riders sliding on the ground can go underneath the guardrail or hit a post, and both can lead to severe injury, the Federation of European Motorcyclists Association (FEMA) says. 

Crash barriers are specifically designed to minimise car and heavy vehicle damage but are dangerous for motorcycle riders, the FEMA report says. 

Effective solutions do seem to exist.

The Motorcycle Protection System, an additional beam positioned underneath the beam of the guardrail, reduces injuries and deaths significantly, according to the SWA report that surveys and summarises research from across the world. 

A flat protective cover at the beginning of guard rails also reduces the risk of injury on impact, FEMA said.  

Motorcycles amounted to 29.3 per cent and 34.5 per cent of traffic casualties in Malta in the first and second quarters of this year.  

A July National Statistics Office report said only 10 per cent of registered vehicles were motorbikes, e-scooters, and all-terrain vehicles. 

Infrastructure Malta follows European safety practices, a spokesperson said.

“For motorcycle protection, the agency follows practices of EN1317-8 Technical Specifications.  

“The agency follows barrier manufacture installation methods. These include the placement of end sections which protect for the speed limit of the particular road section,” the spokesperson said. 

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