As data for 2018 is starting to emerge, it allows us to take stock of the threats and challenges that faced road safety, analyse the injury and fatality statistics, examine the strategies that have worked, and look in more detail at those which have failed, and, although we have seen an increase again in road fatalities and injuries, the situation looks to be stable once again, but in the field where lives are at risk, stability is not good enough, and so we must look at the challenges that 2019 will bring, and the subsequent changes.
We perhaps mustn´t be too damning of the figures, but equally must not be complacent. The data on the number of deaths actually promised to indicate a reduction for the first time in three years.
As we have already mentioned, as we came into 2019, one thing already became apparent, that one of the key factors for reducing road fatalities was to slow vehicles down, and so that is precisely what the law will start to enforce, but it doesn´t end there.
We have detailed the speed reduction, a move by the way which has not gained the support the government had hoped, but a move that is being implemented none the less, but as that one aspect dominates the headlines through discussion and disagreement, there are also other changes which are set to take place, which have not yet demanded the same sort of detailed coverage.
The next, and mostly welcomed change this time, will be an increase in the number of penalty points lost for using a mobile phone whilst driving. In addition to a fine, the driver is now set to lose six penalty points. That means that the majority of drivers risk losing their licence altogether if caught twice, or caught carrying out any other infraction considered serious enough.
Not wearing a seat belt will also face stricter penalties, as will the incorrect carriage of children. Children less than 1.35 metres in height are not allowed in the front seats remember, with a couple of exceptions, and must be in an appropriate seat or restraint system. Failure to do this, as well as the failure to wear a crash helmet on a motorcycle for example, will result in the loss of four points. Many people think that the penalty doesn´t go far enough, especially when it comes to looking after children who are vulnerable themselves and trust the adults to afford them the necessary protection. None the less, that is the current plan.
These reforms have already been published in the Official Gazette and will come into force as of January 29, along with stricter penalties for trafficking, for example.