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  • The Fast and The Furious: Malta

    Driving in Malta; a relaxing, fun, and safe experience. The envy of every teenager on the planet, getting into your car and cruising along the Coast Road always makes for a great way to pass the time and take in the scenes. What’s not to love?

    Oh, boy. If you’re new to driving, you’re in for a treat.

    Where to start from? Potholes, road-rage, cows running through the street (yes, it’s happened), drunk-drivers (can you not? Please?), people who don’t strap their kids into seat-belts (basically, a tragedy just waiting to happen)… I could go on all day. Let’s just call the overall experience of driving in Malta “colourful”.

    Torrential downpour? Step on it!

    Talk to anyone who has the fortune (!) of owning a car, and you can bet that a litany of bumper-to-bumpers, close shaves, and stories almost too ridiculous to believe will follow, leaving you both entertained and horrified for hours to come.

    ‘Give way’? What’s that? Fast lanes? You mean the lane where I can cruise freely, right? Stop signs? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

    “Step aside, pedestrians! There a half-dozen pastizzi with my name on them!”

    Joking aside; we’ve become so accustom to being on the defense when driving (rightly so, some might argue…), that we frequently forget that carelessness and disregard for the rules have the potential to cause serious harm. Much as we may have reason to believe it’s a pack of wild baboons behind the wheel, it’s actually another human life on the road, and it honestly isn’t worth the rise in blood pressure to get riled up over every single spectacle we may encounter on our roads.

    On the other hand, we cannot pretend (and dare I say, expect?) that drivers won’t take the mick out of traffic rules if they are not properly imposed, and violations not adequately punished.

    The number of people who use their phones whilst driving or take zero notice of speed limits imply that the penalties for doing so are way too lenient. A far more effective incentive way of getting people to respect traffic laws would be to fine offenders in accordance to their salaries. Such is the case in Finland, which famously saw a former Nokia director fined €116,000 for driving over the limit.

    Let’s stop pretending that a feeble slap on the wrist will result in any real change, and start imposing harsher penalties before the death of a driver or pedestrian does that for us. Until harsher fines come into place and serve as a genuine reason for road users to observe rules, people will continue to be careless, and people will continue to get hurt. Unfortunately, it is only when we’re hit where it hurts (ie: our wallets) that some of us actually take things seriously.

    Until that happens, however, there is an easy fix to the circus that is our roads, and it all stands from one common denominator; people. The power over what happens on our roads all comes down to the people using it – specifically, you.

    The next time someone cuts you off, give your middle finger a break and try counting to 5. Someone taking up 2 parking spaces? Namaste and drive on (hoping said driver winds up with a puncture is optional). And when you’re next stuck in the infamous morning traffic, try cranking up the music and singing the frustration away – in such cases, Metallica is highly recommended.

    At the end of the day, if you’re a person in charge of a vehicle (be it a car, motorcycle, scooter, or otherwise), you are now responsable and potentially legally accountable for any mishaps. You’re also the person who can save a person and their loved ones a great deal of anguish. And surely that warrants your full concentration every time.

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