Maltese law still allows loopholes for drunk drivers to evade prosecution, Doctors for Road Safety (D4RS) has warned in a new position paper highlighting the pervasive issue in the country and what we can do to change it.
In a harrowing look at the statistics behind drink driving, D4RS noted that around 25% of all road fatalities across Europe are alcohol-related.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Malta, statistics specifically linked to drink driving are non-existent, making the country just one of three EU nations that do not have proper statistics on the prevalence of alcohol’s involvement in fatal road accidents in the country.
“Most reports related to serious road accidents in the press do not comment regarding possible causes for legal reasons” the report reads. “D4RS is not aware of any other local data compiled from the results of court cases. Such data is admittedly difficult to compile as court cases often take years to conclude.”
However, figures do show that the overall trends of grievous injury or death in a traffic accident in Malta have failed to decline – despite authorities’ attempts to flatten the trend.
In fact, Malta is the only country to have reported an increase in road fatalities between 2010 and 2017. Malta’s death rate jumped by 46% over the period, while the general EU average of road fatalities decreased by 20%.
The report notes that even when compared to the last decade, Malta “remains consistent” in road fatality rates. There have been a reported 11 fatalities in the first three quarters of 2020 alone.
Meanwhile, 75% of those involved in traffic accidents and were subject to a breathalyser test had alcohol levels above those permitted by the law. Yet, as Lovin Malta reported previously, this 75% is a significantly low number.
The number of breathalyser tests police enforce on suspicious drivers is worryingly low. Around 91.7% of road traffic accidents in this period of time were not tested for alcohol levels.
In terms of proposals and recommendations on how this issue can be addressed, D4RS have highlighted that “the most effective deterrent” will not be an increase in penalties. Rather, they recommend “increasing the likelihood of being caught offending” would provide a foundation for improved enforcement of drink driving.
Amongst their other proposals and recommendations include improvements in the manpower and resources allocated towards increased enforcement, easily accessible breathalysers, and a greatly improved frequency of enforcement – particularly in high-risk areas.
A focus of their proposal is the retraining of traffic police and improvement and overhaul of communication channels between entities involved in traffic control and legislation (such as Transport Malta and the traffic court).
As Malta enters the festive period – where drink driving is likely to be at a high under normal holiday circumstances – the issue becomes more important to discuss and seek improvements on.
How do you think Malta’s drink-driving issues can be resolved?