Just 42 per cent of vehicles stopped for people waiting at four pedestrian crossings during an exercise carried out by The Sunday Times.

Four pedestrian crossings in St Julian's, Valletta, Sliema and Floriana were selected to analyse whether drivers approaching them are giving way to pedestrians waiting on the footpath.

The survey comes after a week in which three people died in accidents on local roads, including a 54-year-old German woman who was run over by a car while trying to cross a road on a zebra crossing in G─žajnsielem.

She is one of 22 people who have died in traffic accidents on local roads this year; this is seven more than last year and the highest since at least 1991, according to data from the European Commission and the European Traffic Police network.

The selected crossings were observed for 15-minute periods to see how many vehicles stopped for pedestrians on the crossing or waiting to cross.

At the crossing on the St Julian's road leading to the Portomaso marina, 10 vehicles stopped for pedestrians but nine failed to do so last Tuesday evening from 6.45 to 7 p.m.

In Floriana, at the crossing adjacent to the Granaries, only four vehicles out of 10 stopped for pedestrians from 12.45 to 1 p.m. last Friday. On the same day, merely six out of 14 vehicles stopped for pedestrians at the crossing next to Castille in Valletta from 1.45 to 2 p.m.

Finally, just seven out of 21 vehicles stopped for pedestrians at the crossing on The Strand in Sliema close to the ferries from 10.30 to 10.45 a.m. yesterday.

Hardly any of the vehicles surveyed waited for pedestrians to finish crossing the road before driving off.

Figures obtained from Datatrak, the company that provides software services for the Local Enforcement System, show that wardens have issued 372 tickets nationwide for contraventions by motorists at pedestrian crossings this year, up from 326 in 2008.

The penalty for failing to stop or slow down at a pedestrian crossing is €11.65. Kenneth De Martino, managing director of the Guard and Warden Service House, admits it is "very difficult" for wardens to enforce the law at pedestrian crossings.

"It is much easier to hand over a ticket to cars parked illegally than it is to hand one over to a car driving away from a crossing," he said.

Some joint council committees, notably the Sliema joint committee, specifically ask wardens to look out for contraventions at pedestrian crossings, Mr De Martino said.

"Is it enough? You can never do enough as far as the safety of pedestrians is concerned, but the wardens do their best," he added.

One person who may not be consoled by Mr De Martino's comments is 72-year-old Frank Bonello.

On December 12, Mr Bonello had to spend nine hours in hospital after almost being run over by a bus on the pedestrian crossing near Ta' Natu supermarket in Mosta.

A car had stopped for him and he was half-way across the road when he had to jump out of the way of a bus moving at a fast speed from the other direction. He broke three teeth, a rib, a dental bridge worth thousands of euros, his watch, glasses and mobile phone, and suffered bruises, cuts and torn clothes. "It was really horrible but not unusual - you always have to be careful at crossings because even when one car stops another might try to overtake it," he said. Mr Bonello filed a police report but did not know the bus number, and he does not think any driver has been held accountable for failing to stop for him.

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