Staff Reporter

BALEARIC drivers cite cyclists as the main cause of distraction at the wheel, and a major factor in the Islands' accident rate figures.
The Traffic department claims that “pedal pushers” were the cause of 39 percent of accidents on the roads in 2004; and 38 percent of mishaps which occured in towns.

This is the key conclusion which emerged from a study relating to the Balearics entitled “Distractions while driving”, presented yesterday in the Hotel Melia Palas Atenea in Palma by Alfonso Perona, Executive Secretary of the RACC Automobile Club Foundation.

The head of this organisation for the Balearic region, Cristina Catala, said that Balearic drivers “overlook” this factor as a principal accident risk factor.

Apart from the presence of cyclists on the road, the causes of distractions for Balearic drivers are the same as for those in other regions of Spain. In the case of the Islands, “searching for a parking space” comes as a surprising second place, and in third place is “other vehicles driving too close.” In addition to this, in descending order, are commonly-confronted situations such as pedestrians trying to cross the road, remedial work being done on the roads, passing the scene of an accident, talking to passengers, the presence of children playing near the road, the traffic police being around or simply being in too much of a hurry. All of the above prove to be less serious causes than excessive speed or drinking and driving. Nevertheless, distraction at the wheel caused 55'818 deaths of the total of 143'124 people which were involved in traffic accidents throughout Spain in 2004, the latest year for which the Traffic department has figures. From 1993 to 2003, distraction as an “initial” factor in these accidents grew by 75 percent, while distraction as a “concurrent” factor (combined with other issues) increased by 65 percent. In the case of the Balearics, drivers put distractions in sixth place amongst the causes of accidents, making the Islands the second region, after Asturias, where this risk factor is most disregarded. Madrid is the area where the issue is given most importance.

According to the RACC study, Balearic drivers are those who drive most when they are tired, although Perona said that he did not consider this to be a “concrete figure” but rather a perception. He admitted that the traffic on the Balearics is “dense” and there are a high number of rental vehicles and foreign road users adding yet more dimensions to traffic circulation.


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