The death of a 17-year-old girl in the fourth traffic fatality in a month on Sunday provoked social media calls for better roads, stronger law enforcement and improved driver training.

But Infrastructure Malta says it is already redesigning major roads to slow down traffic, although there is a need for better law enforcement at night.

Kasey Sciberras died when a car hit a wall and electricity pole on the Central Link in Attard at 3am on Sunday. Another passenger and the driver were seriously injured. 

Councillor lambasts Transport Malta failure to install speed cameras

Attard Labour local councillor Victor Galea, who is familiar with the area where the young victim lost her life on Sunday, said this was an accident black spot.  “We’re sick of running after Transport Malta asking them to install speed cameras. Look what happened. They should be ashamed!” he told Net TV.

He said the road was a “motorcycle racetrack” at that time of the morning. “We see speeds of 150 and 180 at night when there’s a disco in Rabat.”

He said councillors of both parties had got together and put pressure on Transport Malta to install a speed camera but they had told studies were being made.

“The study was carried out tonight,” Galea said sarcastically and in evident distress. “It’s a shame. A shame. It’s just not right that a young woman like that should die.”

The new stretch of the Central Link road that skirts Attard has seen other bad crashes.

In March, a driver suffered grievous injuries and his female passenger was seriously hurt when their Toyota and a Porche were involved in a collision. In December, a 27-year-old man survived a crash into a rubble wall that turned his car into an unrecognisable wreck.

The Transprt Ministry over the past weeks said it had launched a strategy for safer roads.

Infrastructure Malta is narrowing lanes, improving road surfaces

Infrastructure Malta CEO Ivan Falzon, in comments not directly linked to Sunday's tragedy, said one way how Infrastructure Malta was trying to reduce speeding on Maltese roads was through improved road design.

The approach includes reducing the width of lanes in areas popular with pedestrians, and improving road surfaces.

But more police enforcement was also needed, Falzon insisted, citing a lack of frequent breathalyser tests and speed gun checks especially at night and in the early hours of the morning.  

“You can do hundreds of checks at 8am but they won’t be as effective (to stop dangerous driving) compared to testing at 2am.”

Twenty-six people died on Maltese roads last year, the deadliest year on record, while Sunday’s early morning fatality made it four in a month.

Design interventions on the Mrieħel bypass, Mosta, Blata l-Bajda and Għadira all aim to make roads safer, Falzon said.  

The Mrieħel bypass, previously made up of two wide lanes, has been redesigned to include three lanes that are significantly narrower. 

Narrow lanes lead to slower speeds, Falzon said. 

“Drivers feel like they are in a funnel and so drive more slowly.” 

You can do hundreds of checks at 8am but they won’t be as effective (to stop dangerous driving) compared to testing at 2am- Infrastructure Malta CEO

In Mosta, a wide cycle lane in Triq id-Difiża Ċivili is mainly aimed at improving cycling infrastructure but has the added effect of reducing lane width and slowing down speeds, the IM CEO said.

Triq il-Marfa, the road alongside Għadira bay, has been reduced to a single lane on the road’s southbound side.  

Falzon said that drivers automatically reduce speed when seeing that a two-lane street is merging into a single lane.  

“Being a beach, with thousands of hours of pedestrian activity registered, we believe this downhill stretch is no place for a two-lane road and a single lane will create the balance between safety and convenience,” Falzon had told Times of Malta in March. 

As part of a multimillion euro, active mobility network, the surface of St Joseph High Road in Blata l-Bajda will be raised at the point where pelican lights are installed and a material resembling tiles will replace the asphalt. 

The area near the traffic lights in Blata l-Bajda will be improved.The area near the traffic lights in Blata l-Bajda will be improved.

“The message to drivers is to tread carefully,” Infrastructure Malta architect Robert Zerafa told Times of Malta

The Blata l-Bajda traffic calming measure is part of phase one of a €35 million plan that will look to provide a “realistic alternative” to cars in central Malta.

Still, better road design can only go so far, Falzon said. 

As more roads are given smooth asphalt and drivers do not have to worry about potholes, there is a temptation to speed, he said. 

More enforcement is needed to prevent dangerous driving, he insisted.

Bicycles advocacy group reacts

In a reaction, Rota, the bicycles advocacy group responded to the Infrastructure Malta CEO's comments on the Mrieħel bypass, recalling that two years ago it proposed a narrower bypass to cater for a segregated active mobility route towards Attard, and simultaneously take advantage of the existing service road on the other side to facilitate a parallel slower route for easy access to any point in the industrial area. The proposal had not been considered.

"Dieting a road by narrowing lanes doesn't mean adding more lanes for cars in the gained space. Visually, it maintains a similar appearance, if not worse, especially at night. The lack of proper segregation between lanes gives the illusion of a wider road, encouraging higher speeds.

"While narrowing the lanes might marginally improve safety for those inside vehicles, adding extra lanes in the space gained from a road diet is counter productive and worsens the safety experience for anyone else outside," the group said.

It said there were several other locations that required immediate attention, such as the poorly designed bicycle lane in Mgarr.


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