Malta registered the largest increase in road deaths in 2016, with fatalities doubling over the previous year, according to a new European report.

The island was also one of the only two countries to register a higher number of road deaths when compared to 2010, the European Transport Safety Council report has shown.

According to its 11th Road Safety Performance Index Report, 15 out of 32 monitored countries registered a drop in the number of road deaths in 2016 over 2015, with Lithuania and Cyprus leading the rank.

The number of road deaths went up in 15 countries, while progress stalled in two.

The biggest increase in the number of road deaths was registered in Malta (100 per cent), followed by Denmark (19 per cent), Ireland (16 per cent) and Norway (15 per cent).

ETSC calls for political will to improve on the poor progress

The report, however, notes that road deaths numbers in Malta are particularly small and, therefore, subject to substantial fluctuations.

The figures for Malta show 15 deaths in 2010, which dropped to nine in 2012 but doubled again to 18 the following year.

The figure decreased to 11 in 2015, but doubled to 22 in 2016. This shows a 46.7 per cent increase between 2010 and 2016.

In 2010 the EU set a target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020, but according to ETSC, progress has virtually ground to a halt since 2014.

Portugal, Lithuania and Greece are the only EU countries that are on track to reach the 2020 target.

The UK and the Netherlands are the Member States with the slowest progress, while the number of road deaths recorded in 2016 in Malta and Sweden was higher than in 2010.

When it comes to road deaths per million inhabitants, in 2010 Malta recorded 36 deaths for every million, compared to the EU28 average of 63. However, in 2016, this went up to 51 per million inhabitants, which equals the EU28 average.

ETSC is a Brussels-based, non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the numbers of transport deaths and injuries in Europe.

Its Road Safety Performance Index is a policy tool to help Member States improve road safety. It identifies best practices by comparing the states’ performance.

In its report, ETSC called for political will to improve on the “poor progress”.

“The lack of it at EU Member State level has contributed to a decline in levels of police en-forcement, a failure to invest in safer infrastructure and limited action on tackling speed and drink driving in a number of countries.”

Meanwhile, there has also been a “conspicuous lack of action” at EU level, it added.

Minimum EU vehicle safety standards have not been updated since 2009 despite rapid advances in vehicle crashworthiness and new technology that can help drivers avoid or mitigate the consequences of collisions. Plans to update the standards were postponed and the proposal is not expected until March 2018. 

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