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Protection for vulnerable road users (1)

Under the deceptive title of ‘Safety for cyclists’ (January 8), Jean Karl Soler again misleads readers on the question of presumed liability law, calling it “a campaign to target people simply because they drive a car”.

First of all it must be re-emphasised that the principle of presumed liability is not about criminal guilt but about civil liability for damages arising out of injury or death.

It is based on a motor vehicle’s potential for damage because it is invariably the vulnerable road user who is injured or killed. It is therefore a question of vehicles being driven with corresponding care.

Secondly, the major beneficiaries of this law are pedestrians, especially children and the aged who are the most frequent victims. There is a large number of cases of deaths and injuries on our roads which have not been resolved yet because of absence of this law.

Thirdly, as already explained, the principle restores a balance of justice in favour of vulnerable road users by correctingthe unfair situation whereby theinjured party has to claim damages from the vehicle driver.

Such claims require litigation (often lengthy and costly) against the vehicle driver’s insurance company.

Fourth, the law has been in force in 30 European countries for many years. On the other hand, Malta and the UK have failed vulnerable road users by not introducing this just principle.

Finally, Soler comments that the share of road fatalities due to bicycle accidents in Holland is “a staggering 25 per cent”.

This assessment misleads readers because it ignores the fact that Dutch commuters use a bicycle for 26 per cent of their journeys. Holland is, in fact, the safest country in the world for cyclists.

The fatality rate in Holland is 1.6 fatalities per 100 million kilometres cycled. By comparison, the fatality rate in the UK is fourfold. Dr Soler does a disservice to our health by discouraging active mobility through inaccurate or exaggerated misinformation.

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