OFFICERS from the Traffic division of the Guardia Civil gave out 150 fines to drivers during the last two weeks for using mobile phones while driving on Balearic roads. This was part of a campaign which started on February 20 and ended on Monday, although it will remain in place in Palma until March 19.
According to the Balearic Traffic Headquarters, during the campaign 3'500 vehicles were stopped in the islands, of which 1'925 were inspected, 55 percent of the total. This offence is punishable by a fine of up to 300 euros, suspension of the driving licence by between one and three months and, when the system of points come into force, the loss of three points on your licence, according to the Traffic department, which in 2005 fined 75'000 drivers in Spain for inappropriate use of the mobile. In addition to the fines for the use of mobile phones not approved for use while driving (4.4 percent of those stopped), another 40 fines were given out (0.12 percent) for the use of headphones and similar gadgets while driving. In 70 cases (0.2 percent) the fine was for the distraction of the driver by various means. On the positive side, the Balearic Traffic Headquarters said that during the campaign some 7 percent of the vehicles which were stopped and inspected had “hands free” telephones installed of the type approved for use while driving. According to them, the main objective of the campaign was to improve the awareness of drivers over the inappropriate use of mobile phones while driving, which was considered to be a distraction which quadrupled the risk of accidents. The Traffic department said that drivers have to deal with increasingly more distractions at the wheel, all of which raise the possibilities of suffering an accident, but of these the greatest distraction is the mobile phone. During 2005 2'875 fatal accidents occurred on Spanish roads, leaving 3'329 people dead and another 3'000 injured. In 27.7 percent of these accidents the distraction of the driver was the main cause. That is to say that 798 of those accidents, in which 937 people died, could have been avoided if the driver had not been distracted.