Transport Malta is waiting for the recommendations of an external safety audit on the Central Link road before installing safety features that it says could include speed cameras.
The issue of road safety on the arterial road between Mrieħel and Ta' Qali was raised over the weekend after the death of a 17-year-old passenger in a car crash in an area locals said was an accident blackspot.
Attard local councillor, Victor Galea, was highly critical of Transport Malta for having failed to install speed cameras in the “black spot”, where there have been other serious crashes, despite the council’s pleading.
Speaking to Times of Malta, David Sutton, chief officer at the Integrated Transport Strategy Directorate, yesterday said the road safety audit was in its “final stages”.
He revealed that motorists typically drive 10km/h above the speed limit along the 4.3 kilometres of the Central Link, according to initial speed data gathered by the transport authority and seen by Times of Malta.
The Central Link project was started in 2020 and was completed and opened early last year.
Once the audit is complete, Sutton said Infrastructure Malta and Transport Malta will implement its safety recommendations.
“On the basis of observations, traffic accident reports and speed data, the external auditors will point out potential safety hazards and remedial measures,” Sutton said.
The measures could include narrowing lanes, installing speed cameras and putting in place rumble strips, he said.
The girl who died in Sunday’s crash was Kacey Sciberras from St Paul’s Bay, leaving her community in shock.
“Their study was carried out last night,” a distressed Galea said sarcastically about the audit a few hours after the accident.
“It’s a shame. A shame. It’s just not right that a young woman like that should die.”
“We’re sick of running after Transport Malta asking them to install speed cameras,” he told Net TV.
Sutton said the Attard local council had alerted Transport Malta to potential speed problems during the construction of the Central Link, before it was opened in January 2022.
“We agreed to carry out traffic studies, speed studies, particularly to see what the problem is and where the problem is,” Sutton said.
They found that motorists were on average driving 10 km above the speed limit. The highest speed measured was 157km/h in a 60km/h zone.
The safety audit will drill down on specific areas and introduce safety measures where needed most.
Sutton said that under EU directives, new roads need to undergo several safety audits as they are being built, with a last audit ideally happening a year after completion.
The auditors inspected the road to observe how drivers were acting this March and were concluding their findings, he added.
“Sometimes with an audit you need to observe what is happening once it [a road] opens and that’s the reason for an audit post-opening,” Sutton said when asked why the previous studies had not flagged a speeding issue.
Many people know how speed cameras work, they’ll slow down and speed up again
He said roads should be designed to be “self-explaining” and reflect the speed limit. “People will drive at a speed they perceive is safe.”
Speed cameras alone, he added, were not “the be all and end all”.
“Many people know how speed cameras work, they’ll slow down and speed up again”.
While a “good deterrent”, speed cameras would not deter everyone. Several people had died or been seriously injured in areas with speed cameras, he said.
From an engineering point of view, drivers need to be made aware of potential hazards if they travel beyond the speed limit.
Other elements that contribute to safer roads are rumble strips, narrower lanes, crash barriers and better speed signage, Sutton said.
He said a temporary solution to speeding on the Central Link was for the police to carry out mobile speed enforcement, using speed guns.
“Speed limits are there. If the police are there and are present on the network, you will see enforcement being carried out and it will condition your mind.”
He said LESA and the police were both authorised to stop drivers from speeding.