Traffic chief Javier Corominas has been taking part in a congress on education and road safety, and in this interview he discusses the new Traffic Law which, among other things, bans the use of mobile phones in cars.

Q. What is the new sanction most feared by drivers?
A. Losing their driving licence, which can occur for some serious offences. On the whole I am in agreement with the new traffic law. If a driver wants to mend his or her ways, there are re-education courses.

Q. Do you think the re-education and road awareness courses are a good idea?
A. Yes. And we already have a good example here. I know that there are some courses, organised by the Palma city council. I think they are for offences which are not serious. A fine can be substituted by a course, under certain conditions.

Q. What about the ban on the use of mobile phones in cars, which is one of the measures with the biggest impact?
A Yes, I am convinced that this is the right step. The use of the mobile phone is a big distraction, not just in the action of picking it up. Switching attention from the steering wheel alone is a risk. I know people whose cases underline the danger of these acts. One lady, young, pretty, elegant, a water ski champion, is now in a wheelchair for changing the station on the radio. I don't remember if she was driving or was a passenger, but she had a serious accident which changed her life. And a mobile phone is more distracting than a radio.

Q. Do you think that the use of the “hands free” instead of the traditional mobile phone is suitable?
A. I think the use of the “hands free” phone is going to be authorised, despite the risks I have pointed out. I would not authorise any type of phone. A few years ago we did not have mobiles and nothing happened. You reached your destination and were told “you have a message.” There were always phone booths along the way. We managed.

Q. Rash driving carries a fine between 50'000 and 200'000 pesetas and three months without a licence. A lot of people think this is exaggerated. What do you think?

A. I welcome everything which will prevent dangerous and rash driving. The higher the fine, the more it hurts the driver and the more he will try to avoid it. But losing one's licence is feared even more. And it is fairer, as the efficiency of a cash fine depends on the finances of the individual.

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