Malta’s approach to road safety - Christopher Cutajar
Advert

Malta’s approach to road safety - Christopher Cutajar

Photo: Jonathan Borg

Photo: Jonathan Borg

Every 24 seconds, someone in the world dies on the road, and road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally.

According to the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 published earlier on this month by the World Health Organisation (WHO), while progress has been achiev­ed in important areas such as legislation, vehicle standards and improvement of access to post-crash care, this progress has not occurred at a pace fast enough to compensate for the rising popu­lation, increase in mobility, and the rapid motorisation of transport taking place in many parts of the world. In fact, global road traffic deaths reached 1.35 million in 2016, and road traffic injury is now the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged five to 29.

As the Permanent Secretary at the Minis­try for Transport, Infrastructure and Capi­tal Projects, I recently participated in the Expert Panel of the Commonwealth Road Safety Initiative. This initiative was launch­ed during the Prince Michael-International Road Safety Awards, which took place in London, on December 11.

During Malta’s recent EU presidency in 2017, road safety was the subject of a conference and ministerial meeting which adopted the Valletta Declaration on Road Safety. Last month, Malta and the WHO hosted an International Road Safety Conference, with the theme ‘Roads have Stories’. Road safety is a key target under the WHO’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Road infrastructure, which is so crucial to national development and economic strengthening, can contribute to the road safety problem or its solution.

Although according to Eurostat, Malta had a very good road accident fatality record per capita, more has to be done

In 2014, our ministry launched a 10-year Road Safety Strategy for Malta, now also forming part of the National Transport Strategy 2050. Although according to Eurostat, Malta had a very good road accident fatality record per capita, more has to be done. The Road Safety Strategy aims to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries, improve road safety on the road network, make young drivers and motorcyclists more aware of road safety issues, reduce/eliminate illegal road user behaviours, including drink and drug driving and overspeeding, and increase the understanding on how to design safer roads.

The implementation of the strategy targets four main areas, namely engineering, enforcement, safer vehicles and education. Malta intends to apply a safe system approach to promote effective road injury prevention programmes. This can be achieved both proactively and reactively together with the Police Force, Transport Malta, Infrastructure Malta and the National Road Safety Council.

It is the intention of the government to establish a National Transport Safety Investigation Agency in the coming months, for the investigation of mari­time, aviation and road accidents.

Malta is one of the first EU countries that will assume a methodology whereby the safety investigator adopts a mindset that considers human error as a symptom of deeper safety issues within the socio-technical (road transportation) system, rather than the cause of road accidents.

This investigation methodology is aimed to disqualify the rational choice theory, that is, the belief that people who need to take a decision have the possibility to choose the alternatives.

It is also an approach that distances itself from the belief that people have to necessarily be negligent and reckless to commit errors and cause accidents.

The philosophy that the new agency aims to implement is that accidents happen because road users need to negotiate complexities that they encounter when using the road infrastructure.

Christopher Cutajar is Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece

Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus  
Advert
Advert