By Humphrey Carter
THE festive crackdown on drinking and driving starts today with the Guardia Civil traffic police mounting its toughest campaign ever.
With the death toll on the roads across the Balearics and Spain since last Friday, the start of this present double-bank holiday break, at 62 yesterday, significantly higher than last year, traffic police chiefs have been ordered to mount a severe crackdown on drinking and driving this Christmas and New Year. What is more, the latest report published by the traffic police states that drinking and driving is still one of the biggest killers on the roads, although, over the past four years, the number of young fatal victims has steadily declined. During the Christmas period last year, 275 lives were lost on the roads in Spain and over 1'000 people were injured with drink driving the cause of between 30 and 50 percent according to the various reports. “Not a single drop of alcohol at the wheel” is the slogan for this year's campaign and traffic police are going to be out in force making sure drivers either adhere or pay the consequences. An average of 15'000 alcohol tests are going to be carried out across the country every day during the first phase of the festive campaign which runs from today until December 22.
The Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso has called on drivers not to drop their guard over the next few weeks and warned that traffic police will be keeping a close eye on drivers in the 31 to 40 age group. Alonso said yesterday that young drivers are no longer the problem explaining that traces of alcohol was found in 48 percent of drivers killed on the roads in the above age group last year. In the 41 to 50 group, the figure was slightly lower at 43 percent.
According to a recent Social Attitudes to Risk in Europe report, 12 percent of Spanish drivers admitted to driving regularly, three to five times per week, after drinking alcohol. However, Alonso is wary of introducing new zero tolerance laws with a zero alcohol limit for drivers although they may be reduced further to fall in line with the European average of 0.5 grams per litre of blood for private drivers and 0.3 grams for commercial drivers. “I hope that this first phase of the campaign will prevent people from drinking and driving,” Alonso said. “We're not going out of our way to ruin people's festive season, we're just enforcing the law in a bid to try to make it safer on the roads for all and save lives,” he added. “The routine and spot checks will not cause any problems or disrupt people's journeys providing drivers are co-operative,” he said. “Not a single road death is acceptable,” he added.


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