A Christmas campaign to combat drink/drive and excess speed-related traffic accidents over the festive season was launched yesterday by the Balearic Ministry of the Interior in conjunction with the Islands' Traffic departments. The groups targeted in this project, in ten Majorcan towns during the coming seasonal holidays, are chiefly young people aged between 16 and 35.
The Interior minister, José María Rodríguez, explained that the programme, which will draw to a close on 20 January, will be supported by 100 volunteers from the Civil Protection unit. During weekends, the volunteers will set up road controls between 1am and 5am aimed at deterring irresponsible behaviour on the roads.
Five teams from the Civil Protection unit will deal with the public at official speed and drink/drive control points, already established by the Traffic police for the duration of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Rodríguez emphasised that the object of this exercise is to raise driver awareness about the responsibility that they should shoulder, whether it be related to other passengers in their cars, pedestrians or other vehicles using the same roads. The volunteers will then test how much alcohol the drivers have had and will advise them that they shouldn't drive if they are over a stipulated legal limit. If any of those tested prove to be borderline cases so far as the legal limit is concerned, they will be offered the option of waiting a while and submitting to a second breath test or of continuing on their way if there is another passenger in the car who hasn't been drinking and who could take the wheel. The programme will target areas where many young people go out to enjoy themselves: the Paseo Marítimo in Palma, Calviá, Alcúdia, Sa Pobla, Petra, Manacor, Mahón, Ciudadela, Ibiza and San Antonio. The central government representative in the Balearics, Miquel Ramis, confirmed that the campaign is a response to an initial study which revealed that the majority of accidents occurring on the islands were caused by excess speed and drink/driving. “During the Christmas season, there is an accident and fatality rate higher than at any other time of the year”, said Ramis.

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