Car lights signage

If there is something which annoys me, it is the high-handedness of petty officialdom and their total disregard of issues raised by the public which should concern them. Reports of abuses by traffic wardens and Kafkaesque judgments by tribunals that decide on these matters fall in this category.

Recent reports claim that traffic wardens are fining drivers switching off their car lights after leaving a tunnel, but before coming to a sign which is only meant to remind one to switch off lights in case one has not done so already. It is claimed that this is being done even where such a sign does not exist.

How can the authorities responsible for the conduct of traffic wardens and for traffic signs not respond publicly to such an accusation? Who is accountable?

I have not been a victim of such entrapment, but I object that someone has taken it on himself to invent new international road signs or to reinterpret established ones. This person should have the courage to identify himself and to enlighten us with his reasoning.

I have driven cars for a number of decades all over Europe, and I am fully conversant with the 1968 Vienna Convention on International Traffic Signs. Regulatory signs should be circular with a red edge. When a sign is no longer in operation, this is repeated in black and white with a broad black diagonal across it. No such sign exists in Malta, or indeed in any other part of Europe to tell a driver when he has to switch off his lights.

The interpretation given by these overzealous traffic wardens, or those who give them instructions, means that where there is no sign, as in the case of the tunnel which passes under Ta' Giorni in the direction of St Julian's, a driver must go on driving with his/her lights on until s/he garages the car. Or, drivers should switch off where a sign exists even if they are driving at night.

Rather idiotic, isn't it?

May I end with a word of caution to those drivers who are tempted to switch off their lights as they approach a tunnel exit? This practice is dangerous when other traffic is joining the main road next to a tunnel exit.


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