PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: “We cannot allow road injuries and fatalities to become part of our national status quo.”

This was President Coleiro Preca’s message as she delivered the opening speech during a workshop organised on the occasion of the 4th United Nations Global Road Safety Week, by the Tara Malou Licari Fund, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

The President said that this is indeed an appropriate time for such a workshop to be convened in Malta, when, as a country, we must challenge the drastic increase in road fatalities.

According to the National Statistics Office, there has been a drastic increase in road fatalities of 32%, in 2016 alone. Another sad statistic regarding road fatalities in Malta is a 43% increase in the first quarter of this year, the President stated.

President Coleiro Preca said that this is an issue of national concern, even more so when one considers that, while the majority of countries in the European Region are reporting falling rates in road fatalities, Malta is one of the eight countries which is reporting an increase.

It is reassuring to note that this workshop has brought together a number of stakeholders to work in synergy

By working in synergy, the President said, and your combined efforts to promote road safety in the Maltese Islands, you are sending a powerful message about the urgent need, which is felt by all of us, to address these vital issues. The President also thanked the organisers and the participants for taking up this initiative as part of their contribution towards the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals � in particular SDG 3, Target 6, which focuses on the urgent need to reduce road traffic injuries and deaths by 30%, by 2030.

The President said that urgent action is needed, in Malta and other countries in Europe, if we are to meet SDG 3.6, to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities.

In response to our shocking indicators, I believe that more effective measures are to be taken, to raise awareness, to educate, and to enforce road safety laws

President Coleiro Preca said that we must continue to prioritise safety measures, while also managing speed on our roads. Here, I would like to commend the inception of Malta Road Safety Council � an initiative taken up by multiple stakeholders together with the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure, the President said.

President Coleiro Preca said that issues of road safety are profoundly intersectional, and not only an issue for the Health Authorities, whilst adding that she is pleased with their acknowledgement that road safety issues touch upon the remit of road planning, urban planning, our educational institutions, traffic management, and alternative transport initiatives.However, we must ensure greater collaboration between regional, national, and community-based authorities, to develop and implement effective measures that control, and promote, more effective road safety, for the benefit of all citizens, the President said.

Many a time we tend to focus our efforts on issues of drink-driving and excessive speed

President Coleiro Preca said that there are other causes which also need urgent attention, such as drug-driving, whilst drawing the delegates’ attention to the timely research conducted by the National Centre for Freedom from Addictions, within the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society. It is a report which focuses on practical measures that can be applied by Maltese authorities, in line with good practice in the rest of Europe and beyond, to address the growing problem of drug-driving.

This report is an example of collaborative practices, as it was not only experts from various sectors who were involved in formulating this report. Its outcomes were discusses and disseminated with the Malta Road Safety Council and other relevant authorities and stakeholders. We need to encourage more of this sharing, at all levels of research, information, legislation, policy, and implementation, the President said.

Another need which needs to be taken on board, according to President Coleiro Preca, is that for relevant stakeholders to engage regularly with children and young people, to raise awareness regarding road safety as an intrinsic part of their curriculum. I believe, that we need to intensify these efforts with our children and young people, and this necessarily means including road safety issues within their curriculum, President Coleiro Preca recommended.

In conclusion, the President urged everyone to continue doing everything they can, to ensure that the precious lives of our people, particularly our young ones, are safeguarded, and that their wellbeing is at the top of all our policy agendas.

Source: Government of Malta