The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Speeding, on a Sunday morning - More traffic enforcement obviously required

Thursday, 22 August 2019, 10:23 Last update: about 30 days ago

It was few months back that the Prime Minister inaugurated the taċ-Ċawsli road linking Zejtun and Zabbar.  The road is a wonderfully smooth, long and straight stretch comprising several opportunities for quarter mile races or just about any other reason to put the pedal to the metal.

That evening the Prime Minister acknowledged that he himself is not immune to the temptation to go a little heavy on the acceleration, but he also issued an appeal to Maltese motorists to take it easy, go slow and make sure they and their passengers all get home in one piece.

The incident is more anecdotal, but the fact of the matter is that the speed warning the Prime Minister made will not only apply to Triq taċ-Ċawsli but, as a matter of fact, to large swathes of the country.

That is because, as matters currently stand, all the traffic conversations and complaints are centred around the gridlock being experienced nationwide courtesy of the multiple road projects peppering the country left, right and centre.

Traffic, indeed, is very slow moving at the moment, but it will not remain that way for too long what with the wide, multi-lane, smooth roads being built across the country.

In fact, our current bad roads could also be something of a blessing in disguise.  They naturally keep the speeds down. 

In Malta we are fortunate that distances covered are relatively small and that a combination of road lengths and traffic conditions rarely provide drivers the opportunity to put their vehicles to the test.

This simple fact could be one of the reasons that keeps Malta at the very bottom of road death rankings in Europe in terms of car deaths. The potholed and bumpy roads we are so used to and about which we complain so much, may also play a factor in keeping speeds, and subsequently deaths, down.

But then again, our bumpy, potholed roads may also be somewhat responsible for the fact that Malta has the second highest rate in the EU for motorcyclist deaths.

But the fact of the matter is that very soon so many of our roads will be fast, smooth and great for driving, and for speeding.

And, in essence, this is what the Prime Minister was referring to that evening when he warned against excessive speeding, for we are certain that he would not want us to lose our ranking as the most fatal accident-free country in the European Union.

And this brings us to the point of enforcement, and the lack thereof.

Last Sunday morning a number of police officers took to the Coast Road, speed guns in hand, to carry out a traffic enforcement action, the kind that are way too few and far between.

The results: close to 40 per cent of all motorists were caught speeding.  Speeding, on a Sunday morning when driving is traditionally as easy as Sunday morning, as it was once famously sung.

Police officers took to the roadside with their speed guns, and out of 200 vehicles checked, 79 were found to have been speeding.

That is an awful lot on what is traditionally the slowest driving day of the year.

This was done as part of the European week of targeted speed enforcement, and it should be noted that this is not a common modus operandi for catching speeders in this country, but perhaps it should be.

And judging by the results, such exercises should be more than one-offs.

  • don't miss