STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
AS at year end, a total of 104 people have died in road accidents in the Balearics during 2007.
According to a report issued yesterday by the head of the region's Traffic department, 85 lives were lost on Majorca, 13 on Ibiza and Formentera and 5 on Minorca.. The reasons for these reoccurring tragedies remain the same as in previous years: firstly, excess speed which is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths on Balearic roads; the second most likely reason for accidents is when the driver becomes distracted or tired; thirdly, drivers not respecting “stop” or “give way” signs; and finally those at the wheel who have indulged in imbibing an excess amount of alcohol or drugs. Other key triggers for accidents in the Islands, to a lesser degree, are pedestrian carelessness and appallingly judged overtaking manoeuvres.

In terms of the nature of accidents that have claimed lives during the last twelve months, more than half were frontal collisions, followed by vehicles veering off the carriage way and incidents of people being run over.

Although 2007 witnessed a higher mortality rate in road accidents than in 2006, the actual number of incidents has declined in respect of previous years. The figures reflect a trend which established itself a couple of years ago - of the 118 people killed on Island roads in both 2003 and 2004, the number went down to 110 at the end of 2005. In 2006 it descended again to 102 and this year, 104 was the final figure as at the close of the day on New Year's Eve. Of the 104 people who died in 2007, 32 were less than 30-years-old.

However, when one analyses accident reports over the years, it is clear that since the 1980s there has not been a single twelve months in which less than 100 people have lost their lives. The Traffic department called attention to the fact that the considerably increased number of vehicles circulating on the Islands - triple the number today than figures for the 80s - has to be taken into account when examining accident statistics. It is calculated that today in the Balearics, there is an average of between 930 and 940 vehicles for every 1'000 inhabitants. This, said the Traffic department, means that there are many more vehicles than (ably qualified and appropriately aged) drivers.

A spokesman said that of the 104 people who lost their lives last year in the region, 14 were foreigners from the European Community and 12 were from outside the EU. Hopes had been high at the beginning of December in 2007 because mortality rates were not registered as being as high as in other years at that time. However, the first three weeks of the month produced a death rate on the roads of 11, raising the total to 103. The final death occurred on New Year's Eve on the road between Felanitx and Portocolom.

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