By Humphrey Carter
DRASTIC measures are being studied in a bid to improve road safety in the Balearics after it was confirmed yesterday that the number of road deaths this year is 46 percent higher than the start of 2003. Traffic police chiefs met the central government delegate to the Balearics, Miguel Ramis and the Balearic Interior Minister, José María Rodríguez, yesterday for crisis talks and, in view of the shortfall of police in the Balearics, police may be called on to work overtime to help tighten up road safety. At yesterday's meeting, measures which could be brought into effect immediately were discussed and the traffic police helicopter normally deployed to the Balearics during the busy summer months, may be flown in over the next couple of days to start patrolling the skies and keeping an eye on drivers. Miguel Ramis also revealed that Madrid has given the green light to Guardia Civil traffic police working overtime “if we have to step up the number of police on the roads and the number of roadblocks and checks on the weekend, so be it, Madrid has agreed to cover the costs,” he said. Last year's death toll on the Balearic roads was not particularly high, in comparison to previous years. However, this escalation in road deaths since the staRt of the year is causing serious concern. The Balearic government and Insular Council are going to urge the introduction of traffic filter systems in their new road plans in yet another attempt to improve safety at known accident black spots. Ramis said that a simple answer is to try and reduce traffic on the roads, but he admitted that is easier said than done.
Whatever measures are taken are certainly going to affect all drivers, even those learning.
Here in the Balearics, driving tests may be revised and made tougher while the whole driving lesson programme may also be revised and made more effective. What was made clear after yesterday's meeting is that there is a serious problem on the Balearics roads and it has to be addressed.
The Partido Popular's candidate for prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has already made clear his intention, if elected, to introduce much tougher sanctions for dangerous drivers and also introduce a point system similar to that used in the UK. Balearic Interior Minister backed the plans, “the increase in accidents is a worry for society as whole,” Rodríguez said. “But in order to make the roads a safer place, the government needs the public's co-operation. If in the end the government has to take the initiative, some people may not like the tough consequences,” he said. 1.301 people have died on the Balearic roads over the past ten years, 994 of those were in Majorca.

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