The Malta Independent 1 October 2023, Sunday
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Our deadly love affair with cars

Sunday, 4 June 2023, 09:12 Last update: about 5 months ago

Alexander Mangion

My bias on the issue is documented and well declared. As deputy mayor and resident of Attard, I feel very strongly about road safety, especially in our locality. The fact that a few days ago we woke up to another shocking loss of life, sadly confirms what we have been saying for so long.

Attard over the years has been severed in half, with one of the busiest thoroughfares of the country slicing through it. This has effectively split entire communities who must risk their lives to get on with their daily chores. With the construction of the Central Link, the situation was only rendered worse, as Attard is now detached from its neighbouring towns such as Zebbug, requiring long detours to get to one’s destination.

But this is not about the massive inconvenience that has been sprung on a once-quaint village.  This is much worse. This is about the complete and total lack of care at planning stage, and a misplaced priority, that puts cars on top of anything else.

The fatality on the morning of 21 May, shook a nation. Kacey Sciberras was just 17 years old and had an entire life ahead of her. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones, whose sorrow I cannot start to fathom.

But sadly Kacey’s is not an isolated accident. She is only the latest in a long list of fatalities on our roads which seem to be getting more dangerous by the day. We hear about serious accidents, and close calls almost every day. Just last week, a lorry carrying edible oil capsized spilling its load on the new Marsa junction, with the affected tarmac having to be replaced. Earlier another car overturned in Qormi, not to mention accidents involving motorcycles and many others that don’t get reported.

Our obsession with our private cars, is turning toxic. Coupled with the increasingly fast-paced lifestyles we are living, the situation is becoming dire. Courtesy on the road is a thing of the past. Careless driving, mobile-phone usage while driving and over speeding are a complete normality and respect for the highway code is an all-time rarity.

Which brings me to the first serious flaw in this deadly equation. In Malta, enforcement is laughable at best. This situation is not exclusive to our roads, but this is where it becomes a very serious problem. The authorities might be stretched thin, and I’m not necessarily pointing my fingers at them, but let’s be honest – who is realistically scared of any real repercussions on the road in this country? Motorists behave the way they do because they know that they stand an unhealthily high chance of getting away with it.

Secondly, I have a considerable issue with our obsession with cars. Young people, as young as 18 and 19, are driving enormous, powerful cars, not necessarily having the required experience and maturity to do so. With immense horsepower underfoot, they are at a higher risk of putting themselves and others in danger. Is it time to look into this? Should the very young be driving such powerful vehicles?

Car usage has turned toxic. While the public transport system frustratingly offers no real alternatives, we need to address this situation, as we are quickly approaching a deadly gridlock.

Unfortunately, once again we opt to look away for fear of being unpopular with our constituents. Once again, we are scared of doing the right thing. Our roads are turning into a cemetery and unless we do something serious about it, we will continue to bury our young.


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