By Humphrey Carter
ONE hundred people per day are being caught and fined by Palma police for using their mobile phones incorrectly while driving.
The city's Local Police force launched a strict crackdown on drivers failing to use “hands free” kits on Monday and, during the first three days of the new campaign, 300 drivers were fined, an average of 100 per day.

Balearic traffic director Francisco Ruiz de Peralta said yesterday that he is pleased with the initial results of the campaign. He warned that, while fines of 90 euros are being handed down at the moment, once the new traffic law comes into force at the start of next year, drivers face a maximum of 300 euros. This is for failure to comply with the rules and regulations governing the use of mobile phones while driving.

He also said that using a mobile incorrectly while driving will be considered a serious offence and could lead to points being docked on a driver's licence. The campaign, on the whole, appears to have hit home with drivers, and many have responded positively.

Ángel Castillo, director of El Corte Ingles's electrical department, said yesterday that the two Palma stores have reported a significant increase in the sale of hands-free kits this week.

However, he pointed out that, as far as the police are concerned, they will only recognise European Union certified hands-free kits.

There are some kits on the market which are not EU certified and, as far as the police are concerned, do not count and will result in a fine being handed down to the driver.

The new road safety campaign also prohibits the use of head phones to listen to radios, casette and CD players while driving or riding a motorbike. Similar fines will be slapped on offenders.

The primary aim is to reduce distractions for drivers and ensure that they are concentrating on the road and what is happening around them as much as possible. “Respect and we all win” is the slogan of this pilot scheme and highway code refresher courses are also being made available for regular offenders. The Local Police, in order not to attract too much attention from drivers, are also operating under cover in unmarked cars, so be warned. The next time you are on the mobile, without a hands free kit, do not be surprised when the window of the car alongside you is wound down and a Local Police officer hands you a fine.


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