A law which formally introduces stiffer penalties for traffic contraventions started being debated in parliament on Tuesday.

The law also introduces e-scooters in the traffic regulation law, making it easier for the authorities to enforce the law where they are involved. 

The bill is being piloted by Transport Minister Aaron Farrugia who said the new fines were a key component of a plan by his ministry and Trasport Malta to improve road safety.

Among the new, increased fines, first announced in February, those found driving while using a mobile phone will see the fine double to €200. Drivers will also have between six and nine penalty points deducted from their licence - meaning those caught doing so twice within 12 months will temporarily lose their licence.  

Those same penalties will also apply to any drivers caught with earphones or headphones on both ears while in traffic. Having an earphone in the ear not facing the vehicle's driver side window will continue to be permitted.

The contravention for driving through a red light will also double to €200. Fines for driving on the wrong side of a one-way street will increase to €75 while those for excessive speeding are rising to €100. Going against a no entry sign carries a fine of €75. A new increased €200 is also being introduced when drivers were found to be at the wheel of vehicles they were not licensed to drive, such as using a private car for hire

The transport minister observed that in the past decade, the population had risen by 100,000 persons and the number of registered vehicles had risen to 430,000 although not all vehicles were on the road at the same time.

Farrugia said it was important that penalties for traffic contraventions were an effective deterrent.  Therefore it was not just fines which were being increased, but motorists would also increasingly see points deducted, facing the potential risk of having their driving licence suspended when they lost 12 points.

80% of traffic accidents in Italy caused by use of mobile phones

In Italy, it resulted according to a study that 80% of accidents stemmed from the use of mobile phones by motorists. Therefore it made sense, even in Malta, to double the fines for motorists using the phone at the wheel.

The new penalties come into force when the law is passed by parliament.

Farrugia said the Road Safety Plan, however, went well beyond contraventions and fines and provided for better education for drivers and pedestrians, stricter law enforcement and safer road infrastructure.  

Talks were also being held with experts on ways to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads and the opposition was being involved in such talks. In June tenders would be issued for a five-year €25m ‘active mobility’ project that encouraged transport that did not use passenger cars. The project included safer routes for cyclists and walkers. Mobility hubs would be set up, starting at Portes des Bombes, featuring cycle racks and shower rooms.

Encouraging e-scooters, eliminating abuse

Turning to scooters, Farrugia said some 15,000 trips by e-scooters were made every day in summer. The scooters were useful in reducing traffic congestion and while they should therefore be encouraged, it was important to ensure that they were safe for users and pedestrians.

Scooters must be parked in designated spaces.Scooters must be parked in designated spaces.

The biggest problem was where the scooters were parked, often blocking doorways and promenades. Transport Malta was working with the operators to ensure there were proper parking spaces for them, such as near bus stops. Users who did not park their scooters in the designated spots would continue to be charged. 

Farrugia said that a new road safety strategy due to have been introduced in January 2026 would be moved forward significantly because the country’s demography had changed substantially and the current strategy therefore needed to be updated more urgently.

New Transport Safety Investigations Commission

A Transport Safety Investigations Commission would be appointed to investigate the causes of serious traffic accidents and make recommendations to avoid a repeat. This went beyond the remit of magisterial inquiries, which focused on blame. 

The Road Safety Council would also be strengthened by being included in the law.

In the renewed focus on education, an emphasis would be made on safety campaigns from an early age similar to the unrelated Xummiemu campaign of the past. Road safety would possibly also be included in school curricula. Campaigns will also be held all year round on issues such as drink-driving and overspeeding.

Concluding, Farrugia said he wanted to urge everyone to think about a new era where fewer people used their private cars and opted for public transport, taxis, scooters and other modes of transport. 

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