MORE motorcyclists in the Balearics are prepared to risk their lives and not wear a crash helmet than in most other parts of Spain.
On Monday, the traffic department will launch a new campaign to encourage the greater use of crash helmets across the country with particular emphasis being on areas such as the Balearics, where the motorcycle accident and fatality rate is higher than the national average. Last year, 450 motorcyclists or their passengers died on Spain's roads and over 100 of the fatalities were not wearing a crash helmet.
With the new slogan “we can't put a crash helmet on for your” the two-week crackdown will involve some 50'000 spot checks as well as a blanket media awareness campaign. The traffic department has apparently waited until the start of summer to launch the campaign because, with the good weather, the use of motorcycles increases. In May and June last year 70 motorcyclists were killed.
However, this year, with the new law permitting holders of a basic vehicle licence to drive 125cc motorbikes, there has been a sharp increase in the number of motorbikes and mopeds on the roads - 90 percent in some areas - with two-wheeled transport becoming far more popular for nipping about Spain's cities. Traffic department sources said yesterday that crash helmets are the only way riders and passengers can expect to protect their head in the event of an accident. Wearing a crash helmet saved the lives of a third of victims involved in accidents last year and, in two out of three cases, prevented head injuries.
In 85 percent of fatal motorbike accidents, the main cause of death is head injuries. Wearing a crash helmet has been made compulsory and the number of fatal accidents has fallen by 25 percent. In 2003 758 motorcyclists died, but, the traffic department maintains that the death toll can be reduced further by quite simply making sure all motorcyclists obey the law. Motorcyclists are the more responsible - 85 percent wear a crash helmet - the big danger are moped and scooter riders who are often younger - with only 66 percent wearing their helmet. The use of crash helmets is below the national average in Andalucia, Valencia as well as here in the Balearics and these three regions are going to be given extra attention over the next few weeks, especially over the weekends. A traffic department report published yesterday reveals that Friday is the most accident prone day of the week with the weekend accounting for nearly 40 percent of all accidents. Failure to obey the law and wear a helmet can result in a 91 euros on-the-spot fine and police have the power to confiscate the vehicles of repeat offenders. Traffic police chiefs warned yesterday that, while the new campaign lasts for just two weeks, this summer police patrols will be keeping a close watch on motorcyclists, especially in urban areas where the majority of accidents occur.