It was reported in the media that there was a decrease in traffic accidents for the first quarter of the year 2017 when compared to the same quarter in the year 2016. This was hailed as an improvement in road safety. However, one must be faithful to the correct interpretation of statistics and statistics must be assessed within their correct context.
The statistics for the first quarter of the years 2014, 2015, 2016 and the year 2017 were as follows:
|Slight injury accidents||Grievous injury accidents||Fatal accidents||TOTAL|
As can be seen from the data, although there was a reduction in the total amount of injury/fatal accidents from 2016 to 2017 however, in reality, there was a decrease in the number of accidents involving slight and greivous injuries. The amount of fatalities increased by 50%.
Also, when comparing the statistics for the first quarter of the years since 2011, it is evident that the statistics for the first quarter of 2017 are not within the normal range. The values for 2016 are a fluke or whisker. Hence, it is cheeky to compare with such data. A more realistic comparison would be with the data for 2015.
However, inspite of this, comparing the statistics of 2017 with those of 2016 or 2015 is still irrelevant. This is because the Road Safety Strategy for Malta was issued in 2014. Hence the base year for the strategy was the year 2014. The Road Safety Strategy committed itself to reduce fatalities by 50% by the year 2020, grievous injuries by 30% and slight injuries by 20%.
Hence, any comparison of traffic accident statistics must be made against the base year 2014. When the road accident statistics for the first quarter of 2017 are compared with the base year data of 2014, there was a 13% increase in slight accidents, a 22% decrease in grievous accidents and a 20% increase in fatalities. In total there was a 6.3% increase in traffic accidents. Hence, when comparing the statistics within the correct context, the scenario is not good.
Also, taking the base year 2014, with the committed reductions in slight, grievous and fatal accidents by the year 2020, there should be a continuous yearly reduction in accidents for the three categories of road accidents.
Below are graphs showing the three categories of road accidents. The red bar lines show the amount of accidents, which should be reducing per year, to reach the targets as planned out in the Road Safety Strategy. The blue bars show the actual accident data per year.
As is clearly illustrated in all the three graphs, all the three categories of road accidents, namely slight, grievous and fatal are not decreasing at the rate which will enable Malta to reach the targets as planned in the strategy.
Hence, the accident statistical data shows that Malta is performing very poorly by its own standards belying what has been portrayed in the media.