Palma's roads have claimed twice as many lives this year as they did during the first four months of the year 2000. Palma City Council spokesperson, José Manuel Sierra, confirmed yesterday that 22 lives have been lost on the capital's roads, a stark contrast to the 11 road deaths between January and April last year. Even more concerning, is that 15 of the 22 fatalities were aged under 30 and most of those killed were riding mopeds. The sharp rise in road deaths has set alarm bells ringing in both city hall and amongst the police. The police have been trying for years to reduce the death toll in the under 30 age group and also encourage moped riders, many of whom are teenagers, to respect the traffic laws, fellow vehicle drivers, speed restrictions and wear helmets. But, while the police are having to think again with regards to improving road safety, they are slowly winning the war against Palma's horrendous parking problem caused by too much traffic. Of the 353'000 parking tickets handed out this year, half have been issued in the recently establish VAP (preferential access zones) where double parking etc. is illegal. 24.500 vehicles have been towed away, along with 444 mopeds and motorbikes. The Local Police have also stepped up the crackdown on drink driving. Since the start of the year, 1.236 breath tests have been carried out, 843 at spot checks, 225 at the scene of accidents and a further 168 drivers have been tested for various traffic offences. According to the police, drinking and driving has been the cause of 224 traffic incidents and on the streets, 459 people have been arrested in the city centre for public order offences, under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. This year the police have received 340 reports of domestic violence and have been involved in 23 sexual abuse cases and two rapes. Sierra announced yesterday that a new “rapid reaction” local police unit is to be set up in order to strengthen the police's drive to combat domestic violence and crime.

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