Staff reporter
EVERY 11 minutes 35 seconds, a traffic accident occurs somewhere in the Balearics. The rate of accidents puts the archipelago ninth in terms of Spain's figures for mishaps on the road. Research carried out by the RACC Automobile Club was presented yesterday in Palma. The director of this insurance company, Albert Valero, explained that a third of accidents happen due to ignoring right of way or due to drivers crashing into others from behind. Some 62.75% of injuries in traffic accidents occur in the Balearics for these two reasons. Work carried out by the RACC, which has been based on 1'600 collisions that took place on the Islands between 2001 and 2002, indicates that drivers in the Balearics take twice as long to acquire the same experience as those in other regions of Spain. Valero warned that the group that has the highest risk of having an accident is young people aged between 18 and 24 years. Fifty-two percent of this group, 23'000 drivers, suffered some type of mishap during the past two years. Some 15.75% of drivers under 24 years of age, gave no respect to giving right of way at crossroads or traffic lights, and 21.92% of this group were guilty of hitting another vehicle from behind. Valero attributed these collisions to “inexperience”. According to the RACC study, newly qualified drivers who had been in possession of a full licence for less than a year, had the poorest record so far as respecting rights of way, crossing from one lane to another without signalling, and overtaking was concerned. Injuries proved worst in such collisions. In the case of car drivers between 25 and 29 years of age, accident rates occurring due to lack of respect for right of way falls to 13.89% according to the RACC report. However, the incidence of hitting another vehicle from behind rose to 22.22%. This statistic was as a result of “being overconfident”, Valero explained. The group of drivers in the 45 to 64 year old group, show the lowest percentage of traffic accidents, although this sector is more likely to have mishaps whilst parking or reversing. Drivers over 65 years of age are implicated in more accidents related to rights of way, in some 17.9% of cases, and with manoeuvres on roundabouts. The director attributed this figure to “the loss of quick reflexes and to getting out of practice at using this type of roadway infrastucture”. The study, which highlights the difference in accidents caused by men and those by women suggest that women cause less mishaps in parking manoeuvres but show greater likelihood of driving into the back of someone else. Forty-eight percent of traffic accidents in the Balearics happen in built-up areas. Of this figure, 38.77 percent are related to parking and 9.44 percent occur during reversing manoeuvres. Similarly, of the 1'600 accidents studied, 1.22 percent of collisions happened during overtaking. Injuries resulting from these manoevures accounted for 21.05% of the total taken into account by the investigation, followed by the consequences of ignoring right of way which was responsible for 6.8% of injuries. According to Valero, the study completed by the RACC will form a key source of information in the launching of campaigns aimed at accident prevention.

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