By Humphrey Carter
THIS week, drivers in the Balearics have been asked by the authorities to pay due care and attention to traffic rules and regulations. From next week extra traffic police patrols will be out and about to enforce the traffic law. On Monday morning, the Guardia Civil will be launching its annual summer road safety campaign with extra and more regular patrols on the ground and support from a traffic police helicopter in the sky. The first phase of the summer operation will run from Monday until June 26 with the slogan “we can't put your seat belt on for you” running in a nationwide awareness campaign. The idea if to make sure that, come the start of the summer holidays when millions of Spaniards will leap in their cars and take their family on holiday, as many drivers as possible are fully aware of the safety laws which have to be complied with. Not only the wearing of seat belts, but that baby seats and carriers are correctly positioned and, in the case of motorcyclists, helmets are worn.
What is more, cars have to carry fluorescent jackets to be worn in case of a breakdown or emergency this year.
The Guardia Civil traffic police will be mounting “thorough” spot checks to make sure that seat belts are not only worn on short journeys, as required by the new highway laws which came into effect at the start of the year, but also worn in the back seats. During the first four months of this year, 322 drivers were fined for failing to wear a seat belt.
A further five drivers were penalised for not using the correct baby/child protection facilities while 128 motorcyclists were fined, in some cases as much as 91 euros, for failing to wear a helmet. In the whole of last year, 188.880 drivers were fined for not wearing a seat belt, six percent more than in 2003. 800 people died as a result of failing to have buckled up. During the two-week campaign, 200'000 spot checks are going to be carried out across Spain.
In the wake of last weekend's spate of fatal accidents, road safety has topped the agenda all week, especially at the national casualty and accident annual conference being held in Palma. Summer is always a complicated period for the traffic police in the Balearics. There is a sharp increase in vehicles, mainly rental cars, on the road and police chiefs have warned that, while Monday's campaign will only last two weeks, the Guardia Civil will be on a heightened state of alert on the roads throughout the summer. Speed cameras will be used on most of the region's motorways and main roads.

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