Road Safety and Motor Sports project proposal

Road Safety and Motorsport Facility

I attended yesterday’s business breakfast organised by the Malta Motorsports Federation on its proposal to build a Road Safety and Motorsports Facility in Malta.  The proposal requires a land area of between 33 and 40 hectares and it appears that government has already identified the land which could serve for this purpose. Indications given so far are that it is in the vicinity of the airport, close to Safi and Kirkop.

During the Business Breakfast the Prime Minister expressed qualified support for the project. He referred to issues of noise and financial feasibility as being basic and which in his view require to be addressed in more detail before government considers the matter definitely to take a final decision.

I also heard veteran entrepeneur Maurice Mizzi air his views. He agreed with the road safety aspect of the project whilst disagreeing with the motor sports part on the basis of noise pollution.

The two aspects of the proposed project are complimentary. The Motor Sports aspect is considered to be the revenue generating part whilst the Road Safety aspect will contribute to an organised professional drive to have better trained drivers. The road safety aspect of the project was defined by one of the foreign speakers as being a CSR driven project, a means through which Motor Sports channels back into the community profits which are generated.

The issues to be examined are not only those relating to financial feasibility and noise impacts as emphasisied by the Prime Minister. Air quality and the emission of particulate matter resulting from the fuels which will be in use has to be studied in detail. One has also to consider the fact that the localities in the vicinity of the airport are already subject to excessive noise pollution resulting from the operations of Malta’s International Airport.

With this in mind whilst emphasising that the proposed project may serve as a much needed educational tool to improve driving skills much more needs to be examined before it can be given the go-ahead.

Our community may reap great benefits from this initiatve through improved road safety. As to the sports aspect one has undoubtedly to consider further. Eventually a decision will depend on the technical parameters of the project, the proposed mitigating measures and the precise location of the site. Any decision has to await such time as these issues are clear. It has to be clear that the communities close by are not shouldered with more burdens. They have shouldered more than enough to date.

published at di-ve.com on Friday 8 February 2013

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13 comments on “Road Safety and Motor Sports project proposal

  1. As usual articles penned by Perit Carmel Cacopardo are professional – built on facts and considering the interests of both the immediate and the wider community before the interests of speculators and politicians.

  2. This is pure madness. First of all our addiction to fossil fuels and dependence motor cars etc should not be strengthened. We anyway cannot afford the space on our tiny island . Malta is already polluted enough. The revenue generating aspect is dubious – there are already world class racing tracks everywhere. Malta has plenty to offer in other areas – many of which are under exploited. .

    As to this track being an “educational tool” to improve driving skills – Driving skills only improve with experience on the road in real-traffic conditions. – so this is a real no-brainer. The only educational tool to improve the horrendous driving and reckless behavior is police presence on the road, zero tolerance to alcohol and proper sentencing of people who are responsible for serious accidents.or deaths on our roads.

  3. Dear Dr. GG Debono, pure maddness is when loosing a family member with a traffic accident due to an incompetence from other unexperienced skills with a licence. This makes me wonder if students are just studing to pass another ‘examine’ or learning to drive. Your comment that you get the experience in the real-traffice has cost us the loss of our member. Why we should always take an educational concept like this with the best utilization of land by incorporating motoring racing, so negative, when in the long run it will help to reduce fatalities on the roads and shooting it down since its’ conception. I wish you that you will never experience the pain that we are suffering with our loss. My family’s first taught when we read such propsal was “Its about time” that Driving is taken to a different level. A Vehicle is a weapon, ‘driven’ by human hands! It can kill the holder or the innocent passerby if used incorrectly. Such facilities do difference. All statics back this theory and not your comment.

    So please lets be constructive.

    JF

    • Mr Frendo :

      Thank you for the comment.

      First of all about being “constructive” – I have written a number of reports around the subject of this discussion in the course of which I made hundreds of hugely constructive suggestions. See, for instance, reports on “Towards a Low Carbon Society – the Nation’s Health, Energy Security and Fossil Fuels” * and “Healthy Mobility in Sliema: A Case Study”**. So much for not being “constructive”.

      Second of all – on what basis or evidence do you assert that a race track and a so-called “Road safety Project” will improve our road safety or cure so many drivers of their tragic addiction to speed?

      My opinion is quite the opposite; namely that a race track will only reinforce Malta’s obsession with speed -and the car. While the EU is introducing a 30km/h limit in bult up areas we condinue to allow eople to drive at 50km/h eben in a small island as this. I repeat; this track will not be of any “educational” value to improve driving skills because driving skills only improve with experience on the road in real-traffic conditions. Secondly no amount of “education” on such a track will do anything to improve the dangerous conditions on our roads – Our young drivers are perfectly able to drive with “skill” but this does not make them “safe” drivers. The only educational tool to improve the horrendous driving and reckless behavior is police presence on the road, zero tolerance to alcohol and a tough stance on enforcement with proper sentencing of people who are responsible for serious accidents.or deaths on our roads.

      The very idea of building a national racetrack in such a polluted car-crowded and car-obsessed country (2,300 car per square mile) is grotesque. It goes against modern principles of low-carbon, non-polluting healthy lifestyle. While Malta continues to encourage car use by continuing to build roads only for cars — other , European countries do the opposite. Most EU countries have now caught up with Holland and Denmark. Even London, previously a car-loving bicycle-unfriendly polluted city, is investing many millions of pounds in adapting it roads to walking and to the bicycle. Whereas it is commonplace in many European countries for adults to do short (and sometimes long) trips on foot or on a bicycle and for children to cycle to school, most people in Malta take it for granted that the only way to move is by car – sometimes even for short distance of a few hundred metres. . Our children are conditioned from an early age to the motor car; they are ferried to school like royalty by their parents in a car or taken to school by bus. It is unheard of in Malta for children to cycle to school and the reasons fro this are obvious, namely, the dominance of cars on our roads.

      Sorry, Mr Frendo , we have enogh car madness in Malta and too few opportunities for healthy wholesome sports for our youngsters . Malta has the highest obesity prevalence in the EU – and it is well-deserved – we sit too much in cars and in front of telly. We have the wide open sea sea and this presents huge (competitive) opportunities which we don’t exploit and there are huge opportunities here. But we have too little land – or clean air – for such an activity.

      We need to change direction away from our unhealthy motor-driven lifestyle.

      I will be pleased to discuss any point raised by my reports.

  4. Dr G Debono for all the world I do not expect a man of your intelligence to come up with such remarks.Police have been on our roads since their creation and along the years we have seen the abomination called Local Wardens as with no disrespect to the Wardens themselves ,this is a money making machine as often they have confirmed themselves that they are made to issue a large no of fines,otherwise how do you expect the directors to make money.So policing,wardens and narrowing our roads to a Lilliput state have not worked and it looks like we the MMF have the only option to first of all educate properly teenagers and drivers of all kinds,with this I refer ti JF above and express my sadness for your loss and many more due to incompetence from inexperienced drivers just because no proper driving educational facilities exist yet in Malta.And secondly with the same facility provide a place, the much desired track for those who practice this SPORT and spend millions of Euros annually competing overseas.With your phrase The revenue generating aspect is dubious I see how very miss informed you are as with our location weather etc we can pull here a vast variety of Motorsport competitions just like those we travel abroad for,and local enthusiast can be well trained if they do compete abroad and continue to excel and bring in the results which have already put us on the map ,worldwide.Ha ha what makes me lough is that we have space to create another 22 football grounds,another stone and concrete path jungle in Marsascala as big as another 24 football grounds, but people like you who do not have an idea to what Motorsport really entails,oppose to the creation of a Motorsport facility that Educates ,Saves lives and provides the alternative to street racing ,to which frustrated motorists turn to.Lastly lets face it vehicles are here to stay and we will never stop them running but we can organize properly the way they run and as regards to air pollution and noise as it has been well pointed out the land earmarked for this project is by the airport,and so far I haven`t seen you writing to stop the planes as they pollute the air and make just a little bit of noise.Thank you ,

  5. Just an addendum as I don’t want you to think I am unsympathetic to your loss through a car accident – far from it, Malta’s high accident rate and deaths is one of my great concerns. I don’t know the circumstances of the accident but so many of our accidents might not have happened if driving was less careless and reckless.

    We need a prodigious change in mentality to cars (especially of our youngsters) and this will not be achieved by appealing for sensible driving e or “education” without imposition of discipline on our roads.

    Apart from strict control of parking (a good source of easy money), road discipline is non-existant in Malta and it is this which needs to be exerted.

    Please read the relevant parts of my reports. I can also pass on to you the comments I submitted on the consultation report document “Speed Management on Maltese Roads; Policy and Technical Guidance Manual” – if you want a copy I can send it to you electronically (write to me at gdmc@kemmunet.net.mt), I can also send you a printed copy of the report “Healthy mobility in Sliema; a case study” if you email your postal address.

    There are other aspects of Malta’s attitude to driving too long to go into here and – Believe me, I am worried about Malta’s dangerous traffic conditions and its impact on our health – and sometimes tragically, in deaths and bereavement caused through this..

  6. Mr Mifsud

    People over seventy years old may remember the greatly feared “Traffic Police” on our roads” – but there is little sign of them now ! Such people will remember the ever-present (and feared) police officers on their motor bikes who would wave drivers down and issue a dreaded ‘citazzjoni’ for speeding or other infractions. In those days we really had to keep our noses clean when driving – or else ! . Today there is NO such presence of police on our roads and it is a free-for-all – absolute anarchy. We are a third world country. .

    On the other hand, I absolutely agree with you about the “abomination called Local Wardens” which (I also agree!) are a money making machine. Maybe I didn’t make my point strongly enough – our Wardens only see to it only that we park properly but , yes, once we are in our car we can do exactly as we wish. Wardens prey on sitting ducks (parked cars) only but we can drive at any speed (as long as we remember to temporarily slow down near speed camera ) . We can also be as drunk as a lord and still drive a car . We can also kill a pedestrian while drunk and get off lightly with a suspended sentence and a mere 1 month suspension of driving licence (abroad it would be suspension for life).

    I also agree with your comment that we have to first of all educate properly teenagers and drivers of all kinds. Educate ? But, HOW Mr Mifsud ???

    Do you think that driving on a track will make any difference ? No it won’t ! First of all only people motivated to be good drivers will enroll for advanced driving education and – I repeat – one can only learn to be a good driver (= what you refer to as “experience”) in the real situation on the road. There is a BIG difference between ‘driving skill’ and ‘responsible driving’ !! Mr Mifsud, even with the best of wills, it is impossible to make drivers drive responsibly with persuasion or ‘education’ – to make people drive responsibly there must be discipline. Parking fines are no use if there is little or no presence of Traffic Police on the road, – then everybody drives as they like.

    OK most drivers are decent but the remainder are a peril and they drive irresponsibly with impunity.

    As to “our location weather” come on !! etc we don’t need to pull Motorsport people – we have so much more to offer …. and we don’t exploit this ! In any case we need to fill hotels in January/February during the shoulder season (= horrid rainy cold weather) – we are OK and quite full in spring summer and autumn.
    I agree that motor vehicles are here to stay. I have nothing against them I was a keen motorist and used to go on huge car trips all over Europe, I even had a company BMW and free petrol about 20 years in Denmark and the UK – but guess what ? I used to cycle to work ! This is the point I want to make – I have no problem with car ownership and like cars too (we have two cars in the family!) – – – the problem is that we have become lazy (and fat) because we can think of no other way to move apart from in a car.

    OK, I’ll tell you how old I am – 77 years – but I still leave my car in the garage if I can use a bicycle. I will only use use my car if I have passengers (usually my wife) or a big load or if it is raining hard. Otherwise it’s the bike and I enjoy not having to worry about parking.

    What upsets me in Malta is that people are excessively car-dependent and that the car is a huge status symbol.

    Our children tend to grow up in bubble packing because they are prevented by their parents from using bicycles owing to danger from (fast) street traffic and inconsiderate drivers. Children are driven to school, and everywhere else and become conditioned to car-dependency from an early age. What is serious is that lack of road experience from cycling at a young age might contribute to a tendency of newly licensed car drivers to drive irresponsibly. Etc etc . Malta has the highest EU childhood obesity rates – this predisposes to health problems in later adulthood.

    So, yes, I am against encouraging the car mentality because there are so many other sports we can indulge in to get a buzz. But our children are brought up to think that they can only get a buzz from driving fast and dangerously !

    I still think that motor racing is out of place in malta – we don’t have the space for it and we are already severely polluted. Yes OK we can train ‘local enthusiasts but
    there are heaps of possibilities in Malta which don’t need to take up precious land. They will also send a healthier message. We have THE WIDE OPEN SEA (and good winds for sailing) which opens the possibility of any amount of sporting events. How about an annual International Bicycle Hill Climb (Marsalforn to Zebbug ! ) ? We could enter the cycling scene (we have some good cyclists). No? There was such an event in Basle. Or an annual Round Malta Cycling Race? (I once tried this – it is a 65 mile circuit.

    A motor racing ring in Malta is about as appropriate as waterpolo in the Swiss Alps. It’s out of place here when we have some much else to offer.

  7. No need to go into a lengthy debate again as I see that you are definitely anti Motorsport now that you`ve done your bit and been Motoring around Europe.Unfortunately you have not been to the Seminar that MMF organized to see People like the Prim Minister being impressed about the huge contribution such a facility ,has given to lessening traffic accident where in places like Austria it has been made compulsory through law that all Motorists are to attend and pass an Educational Driving Course. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WgCvfeFrxMY This here is the link to the Forum and the next link is to what such a facility entails http://www.facebook.com/video/embed?video_id=540199369348153 Motorsport people are not obese people ,just like any other sport they are athletes whom as you mention cycle around the islands,and sail the wide open seas plus follow a variety of other keep fit and eat healthy courses like all athletes often even organized through the British MSA by the MMF.I close in reminding you that this is the message we are trying to transmit to all Motorists and Authorities that we want a proper well organized driving community ,both on and off the track.Any how no need to state again vehicles are here to stay and we now have everyone`s attention as lets face it we all want better roads and driving but looks like we have the only solution how to lessen accidents often including your bicycle people on our Lilliputian roads.This answers your comment` But our children are brought up to think that they can only get a buzz from driving fast and dangerously ! `So far yes,they do it on their own,that is all about to change.Before I leave I suggest you have a look at the links posted and maybe you get time to Google Isle Of Man,Isle of White Racing and probably you might have heard if Monaco and the show they put on whilst heaps of money are raked in.Thank you

  8. Mr Mifsud – I’m afraid you are wrong. Arguing against a racing circuit IN MALTA does not mean that I am “anti-motorsport” .

    My main arguments are that

    1 ) “ Safety training” will not necessarily ensure safety on our roads – for this a police presence (not car-park wardens) is essential and this must come first. One could also argue that motor racing in Malta will further glamourise the car and reinforce malta’s obsession with the car and speed.
    2 ) we don’t have the land space (PM said this too) .
    3 ) Malta is polluted enough (noise and air quality)
    4 ) There are other many positive features of Malta which we can exploit.

    If Malta (A) were a large country with lots of land space and (B) if there was adequate discipline on the road so that driving behaviour was RESPONSIBLE then I wouldn’t have the least objection.

    As to safety training, I still think that, in addition to lack of enforcement on roads, our licensing system makes it too easy for inexperienced youngsters to take on the responsibility of driving (often in a powerful car) when they lack road experience. We should emulate systems as used abroad where drivers have to go through four or five stages of 1 – 2 years until a full driving license is obtained after some 5 years. For instance, (as I think it is in Canada — pasted from elsewhere, so I don’t vouch for its accuracy but it gives the general idea) :
    (1) LEARNER Permit (can only drive accompanied by a fully licensed driver; may NOT drink alcohol if driving – ie maintain ZERO alcohol blood concentration; must display a learner plate; may not drive between 12AM-5AM.)
    (2) NOVICE Permit (may NOT drink alcohol if driving – ie maintain ZERO alcohol blood-concentration; may only carry one passenger.

    (3) PROBATIONARY Driver (may not drink alcohol if driving – ie maintain ZERO alcohol blood concentration)

    (4) FULL LICENSE is awarded after 1,2,3, have elapsed. If there is an accident or alcohol infringement during the first two years – driver goes back to (1)

    I am sure this (especially zero-alcohol) would cut down our horrific accident rate. It would also cut down on our youngsters excessive drinking – ( this is a scourge in UK and, now, Australia too.)

    Surely it would be sensible for the MMF to lobby for more enforcement as a first step because it is common knowledge that there is a sizeable minority of drivers who bring a bad name to motoring (besides being a danger to others (– and whom “education” won’t cure) .

    Does MMF lobby for better road behavior? Better enforcement?

    There is also the question of lower urban speed limits being adopted by the EU. 50 km/h is too fast – and results in higher fatalities.
    See these pasted references :

    Motion for a European Parliamentary Resolution http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2011-0264&language=EN#title3
    Reducing the speed limit to 20 mph in urban areas; Child deaths and injuries would be decreased.
    Editorial, British Medical Journal, bmj 2000: .320.7243
    Traffic speed zones and road injuries.

    British Medical Journal. BMJ 2009;339:

    EU Communication: Towards a European road safety area: policy orientations on road safety 2011-2020
    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2011-0264&language=EN#title3

    Grundy C, Judith Green, Armstrong B, Wilkinson P, Effect of 20 mph traffic speed zones on road injuries in London, 1986-2006: controlled interrupted time series analysis. BMJ 2009; 339:b4469

    TOWARDS ZERO Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach – ISBN 978-92-821-0195-7 c OECD/ITF, 2008

    European commission – road safety. http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/index_en.htm

    Reducing Excessive and Inappropriate Speed Now: a Toolkit.
    http://www.google.com.mt/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=Reducing+Excessive+and+InappropriateSpeed+Now%3A+a+Toolkit

    Heathcote, E. Old age and the city: BMJ 2011; 343:d4418)

  9. Dr. GG Debono. After going through most of your posts, I am of the conclusion that you are all theories but no logical thinking and real life facts. It clearly shows that you are trying to kill all arguments by sharing several links, trying to impress us mortals that what you are saying is backed by elaborated research and studies by experts.

    But I am very sorry to bring to your attention, that the MMF concept is clearly supported by the EU. In one of the links you shared, the EU is indicative to have the introduction of a multi-phase model for driver training which involves practical instruction even after a driver has passed his or her test. Greater attention should be paid to the concept of lifelong learning in the area of road transport as well. Only if road users constantly improve their skills will they be able to cope with new vehicle functions and more complex traffic situations.

    What did he say? Constantly improve their skills to be able to cope with new vehicle functions and more complex traffic situations! … Constantly improve their skills … So may we ask a simple question. Where can one improve his skills Dr. Debono? surely not by driving around 24/7.

    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2011-0264&language=EN#title3

    For your info – 3.6 Road behaviour

    and

    3.7 Specific individual measures
    training and further training for road users

    Training centers are the way forward as they ARE EFFECTIVE!

    So your argument is totally out of context. EU is supporting the development of a Road Safety and Motorsport complex in Malta.

  10. Joe Frendo

    Oh, so I am “All Theories no logical thinking” – Aha ?

    What I say saying IS backed by research and studies by experts.

    As to ” theory only” – I also have over 35 years experience of driving in different countries from having worked abroad in Germany, Demark, Switzerland, France and UK . I have driven in almost all the EU countries. All this time I owned a Volvo and regularly had a high performance executive car (usually a BMW) and free petrol much of the time. I also regularly cycled thousands of kilometers every year. Isn’t that enough for you? .

    As to logic – well, I agree with much of what you say ! – – – The multi-phase model for driver training which involves practical instruction even after a driver has passed his or her testing proposed by the EU – I am in ABSOLUTE AGREEMENT with you on this .

    But it does not need a race track? (for which we don’t have the space. ) .

    You say: “Only if road users constantly improve their skills will they be able to cope with new vehicle functions and more complex traffic situations.” – this has nothing to do wit safe (versus reckless) driving.

    First of all – improved road skill comes with experience and is predominantly dependent on enforcement (which is absent in Malta) . so the problem is not driving “skills” but absence of discipline and lack of respect for other (vulnerable) road users due to a lack of enforcement and police presence on the road.

    I have no problem with absolutely agreeing with most of what you say . I am pleased to see that you endorse the EU’s statement that “…. every road user has a duty to make his or her own contribution to road safety. Everyone can do their bit. ” You cannot disagree that measures to improve road behaviour are therefore particularly important…” and (EU again) that “the training of new drivers, such as accompanied driving as from the age of 17, a system which has already proved its worth in Germany, or the introduction of a multi-phase model for driver training which involves practical instruction even after a driver has passed his or her test”

    The question is: Does this need a race track ? or even a special circuit ? My answer remains no and, in any case, we don’t have the space for it.

    The EU Paper goes on to mention many issue that are mostly pertinent to winter conditions Northern countries (winter tyres etc) but these include, in particular, • road safety campaigns and measures to protect vulnerable road users.

    This raises a question in my mind: Does the MMF sponsor any safety or other campaigns ? Is the MMF satisfied that every road user fulfils his’her duty to contribute to road safety ?? (I am not!) Does MMF have any views on how road safety can be assured in Malta? On Police enforcement? Do they have any views on speeds at which cars are drive on our roads? And most important of all Does MMF have any views on Malta leniency about alcohol and driving?
    Etc –

    Correcting these do not need any infrastructure – for which, I repeat, we don’t have the space.

  11. So your so called ‘experience’ comes from driving a Volvo and BMWs around Europe and riding a bike, Does this make you an expert then? So I should be a professor, as I have been driving a Jag and a DAF around Europe too.

    From your ‘posts you are in agreement that at training center should be developed. but you did not mention that you have ever seen or visited one of these facilities. Do you know that it is based on a limited size of area. Do you know why they are combined with a racing circuit? This is not Formula 1 circuit, we are talking about Dr. Debono. This is a Road Safety training facility combined with a Race circuit, because once you build one, you got the other automatically. As stated in the video, one facility two worlds. Have you seen the video of the MMF that Mr. Mifsud posted. I am sure you did not, as you would have heard the experts contradicting your argument in full. These are companies that been building such facilities for more than 20 years and they have been driving around Europe more than your years and mine altogether. They have combined the two for the simply aspect that one sustains the other financially. This was also confirmed by Perit Cacopardo in his blog, here, and I quote him:

    The two aspects of the proposed project are complimentary. The Motor Sports aspect is considered to be the revenue generating part whilst the Road Safety aspect will contribute to an organised professional drive to have better trained drivers. The road safety aspect of the project was defined by one of the foreign speakers as being a CSR driven project, a means through which Motor Sports channels back into the community profits which are generated.

    unquoting.

    So here you are, trying to convince us there is no land while the Prime Minister confirmed that such site is already earmarked next to the Airport. I suggest that your next vehicle should be a Toyota IQ,

    • Mr Frendo

      I’m not constructive, incapable of logical thinking, unaware of the real facts of life, all theories with no logical thinking , of limited experience from only driving a Volvo and BMWs around Europe and riding a bike, not a professor who has driven a Jag and a DAF around Europe too and badly in need of a Toyota IQ. Etc etc etc

      When it comes to personal jibes, then there is no more to be said. We’ll leave it at that.

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