The Malta Independent 15 August 2018, Wednesday

Drivers need time to get used to three-lane roundabouts – Road Safety Council

Neil Camilleri Saturday, 11 August 2018, 09:30 Last update: about 3 days ago

Drivers need time to get used to the new three-lane roundabouts, according to the executive chairman of the Road Safety Council.

The Malta Independent spoke to Pierre Vella after receiving several complaints about the introduction of three-lane roundabouts around the island, as part of a push to widen roads.

The projects aim to remove bottlenecks and increase car lanes, in order to tackle traffic congestion, but according to many motorists these have not had the desired effect.

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Many complaints have been received about the Qormi roundabout that leads towards Zebbug, Marsa and Luqa. Traffic congestion in the area at peak hours has virtually remained the same, motorists say, and the extra lane has only made driving around the roundabout more difficult and hazardous.

According to a TM video more than 2,700 vehicles use this junction every hour, 13% of which area heavy veiicles.

Motorists say that the new three-lane roundabouts are more difficult to negotiate, since drivers waiting at an exit now find themselves with three lanes of incoming traffic, often at high speed.

Asked about these concerns, Vella said the concept of the three lane roundabout is not very different from that of the two lane ones. “Obviously given that the three lane roundabouts are new for Malta, some drivers will need some time to get used to them.   Drivers who prepare well before engaging any roundabout, will find them less hard to negotiate.”

Pierre Vella said both Transport Malta and the Road Safety Council are using different mediums to pass on the knowledge of how a driver has to engage in this type of roundabout. These include video clips illustrating how three lane roundabouts should be negotiated.

TM and the Malta Road Safety Council have also teamed up with various TV programs, to screen informative videos, educating motorists.

The Association of Professional driving Instructors has also updated their method of training for prospective new drivers.

Asked if these efforts had proved to be successful, Vella said “any interventions that help to educate or instill new knowledge to drivers will always have an influence on the way the driver behaves in certain circumstances.”

Asked if there was an increase or decrease in traffic accidents after the introduction of 3-lane roundabouts, Vella said “Transport Malta continuously evaluates the level of safety of the road network in general, to consider ways of improving it.  However having said that, the fact that this concept is new means that one has to allow time in order for drivers to absorb the new system.”

The Malta Independent also asked whether flyovers and tunnels would be a safer option, to which Vella replied that this is not always a suitable option.

“Each road has its own potential and its own challenges.  Transport Malta has implemented the Kappara Junction Project which has seen a completely new infrastructure being implemented on our island.  Infrastructure Malta is also undertaking a number of projects which involve the use of flyovers and tunnels - the Marsa Junction Project will see the construction of 7 flyover structures while the Santa Lucija Project will see the construction of tunnels. 

However this does not mean that each road permits the construction of similar structures, and in some cases it is not the most beneficial and sustainable solution.”

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