road code reform would not help prevent speeding accidents.. Image shows smashed up car

Salvini’s new road code misses the point


Climate activists and grieving families are joining forces to oppose what they view as a regressive reform to Italy’s road code, currently under consideration by Italian lawmakers.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right Lega party and Italy’s transport minister, has proposed amendments aimed at enhancing road safety. However, critics argue that the proposed changes neglect Italy’s climate commitments while failing to address the country’s high rate of traffic fatalities.

Italy’s roads witness approximately 3,000 fatalities annually, surpassing the EU average with 52 lives lost per million inhabitants. Salvini’s reform seeks to toughen penalties for offences like drink driving, yet campaigners fear it could exacerbate the leading cause of road deaths: speeding. They argue that the reform, if passed, might enable the government to increase speed limits on highways, despite evidence suggesting that higher speeds correlate with more fatalities.

Restriction of local decision-making

Furthermore, opponents claim that the reform undermines efforts to promote sustainable mobility and combat climate change. It restricts mayors’ authority to implement measures such as creating cycle lanes or car-free zones in city centres.

This limitation impedes the progress made by local authorities in adopting eco-friendly policies, potentially hindering Italy’s transition towards cleaner transportation. An example of this is Bologna’s 30 km/h speed limit in the centre of the city, which Salvini as Transport Minister fought against.

Ironically, Salvini is leader of the League, which was formally the Northern League (Lega Nord) a party dedicated to regional autonomy. Now, they code will be moving to a centralised decision-making. How things change when a party is in actually in power.

Andrea Casu, MP for the main opposition party Partito Democratico, says the government is carrying on “an absurd crusade against the powers of mayors, against cycling and sustainable mobility.”

“Instead of strengthening local public transport in crisis by using at least part of the €22billion we spend every year on environmentally harmful subsidies, Minister Salvini writes a Road Code that looks to the past rather than the future of mobility,” he told news site Euronews Green.

The proposed reform has sparked widespread public outcry, with demonstrations held in numerous Italian cities. Bereaved families have voiced their opposition, emphasising the need for preventive measures rather than punitive ones. They point to the reform’s failure to prioritise speed reduction, which experts identify as a critical factor in preventing road deaths.
Bereaved families speak on Clean Cities’ Instagram page

New road code would shift away from sustainable mobility

Critics also highlight the broader implications of Salvini’s reformed road code, suggesting it reflects a broader shift away from sustainable mobility. They argue that the government’s focus on punitive measures over preventive ones represents a step backward in Italy’s efforts to address climate change and promote green transportation. This sentiment is echoed by mobility experts and urban planners who warn of the potential consequences of undermining mayors’ powers to implement eco-friendly policies.

As Italy grapples with the road code reform, civil society organisations and concerned citizens are intensifying their efforts to block its passage. They view the proposed changes as emblematic of a larger cultural shift away from sustainable mobility, not just in Italy but potentially across Europe.

With the fate of the reform still uncertain, the debate surrounding Italy’s road code reflects broader tensions between environmental priorities and political agendas, with implications that extend far beyond national borders.

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