The road to hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. So, it seems, is the one leading to safe driving in this country. Hardly a day goes by without hearing about some serious road accident, often resulting in loss of life and limb.

Fifteen people were killed in traffic crashes in the first six months of the year, the deadliest mid-year point on Malta’s roads in more than a quarter of a century. And the list of fatalities and people being badly injured keeps getting longer. By the start of this week, the figure had reached 18.

Yet, the only real concrete action that seems to be taken as a result is the placing of wayside plaques commemorating the deceased. There is continuous talk by the powers-that-be but no real meaningful action.

Roads have become Malta’s killing fields. They are a danger to all those – whether motorists, passengers or pedestrians – who do their utmost to be good users.

If the above sounds like a panic-stricken opening, well, that is exactly what it is and what it should sound like, for every life – or limb – lost on our roads is one too many. The consequences and ripple effects are there for all to see, though it appears those vested with the power to do anything about it still do not consider road safety a top priority.

“Road safety is an important aspect of several functions of the authority,” one reads on Transport Malta’s website. But is the transport watchdog and its political masters shouldering their responsibility? The Malta Insurance Association, for one, has its doubts.

Suffice to repeat what the association’s director general, Adrian Galea, wrote in Times of Malta only last month: “Unfortunately, our proposals for changes in the law were never given the consideration they deserved, and at one point, very disappointingly, doubt was even cast on what the true intentions behind our proposals were. With laws that need urgent updating and no real commitment towards proper enforcement to bring true change in the driver’s attitude towards road safety, one cannot have much confidence of any improvement and a drop in fatalities and injuries.” Can there be a more serious indictment?

Admitting the figures are “alarming”, Malta Road Safety Council executive chairman Pierre Vella also made an ominous statement: “If this tragic trend continues, we predict devastating numbers by the end of the year.”

A person who literally has his pulse on road accident victims, consultant emergency physician Jonathan Joslin, insists on the need for more road safety awareness “because the numbers are still very concerning”.

The message cannot be any clearer: the situation on Maltese roads is very worrying and unless drastic urgent action is taken it will only go from bad to worse, especially with the constant increase in vehicles.

Unless drastic urgent action is taken it will only go from bad to worse

Education and the strict enforcement of updated laws and regulations are a must. More detailed information on the cause of traffic accidents should be widely disseminated and a professional entity needs to be set up to make recommendations on improving road safety.

This, of course, needs to start with basic enforcement, such as curbing excessive speed, fining heavy vehicles moving on outer lanes, as well as drivers using mobile phones,  educating them about the presence of motorbike riders and cyclists, failure to use car indicators or stopping at pedestrian crossings, giving way at roundabouts...

It is no rocket science to acknowledge that more officers on the road tasked with fining reckless drivers on the spot will bring about change. Good intentions serve very little when writing the obituary of the next road casualty.

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