The Balearics and La Rioja were the two regions with the biggest reduction in traffic accidents last year and the biggest drop in the number of road deaths, it was revealed yesterday by Traffic Control Headquarters. The report said that accidents in the Balearics dropped by 28 per cent compared to the previous year, and in La Rioja by 24.4 per cent. According to the report, 4'026 people lost their lives in 3'434 traffic accidents in the whole of Spain. This was a 2.6 drop in the number of accidents and a 2.9 per cent drop in road deaths. It was the second consecutive drop in the number of deaths. The report also indicates a five per cent drop in the number of people who sustained serious injuries (1'958) and a 2.1 per cent drop in the case of slight injuries (1'918). The number of accidents rose in six regions, the worst being Cantabria, where it was up by 35 per cent, followed by Asturias with a 27 per cent increase, and to a lesser extent Extremadura (6'2 per cent), Valencia (2.1 per cent), the Canary Islands (1.8 per cent) and Andalucia (0.9 per cent). The number of road deaths dropped by 32 per cent in the Balearics to 81 persons in 74 accidents and 23.7 per cent in La Rioja, 15.3 per cent in Murcia, 10 per cent in Navarre and in Madrid. The regions with the biggest increase in road deaths were Asturias (33 per cent) and Cantabria (28.5 per cent) and to a lesser extent the Canary Islands (5.7 per cent), Valencia (2.3 per cent), the Basque Country (1.8 per cent), Aragon (1.7 per cent) and Catalonia (1.2 per cent). In absolute figures, Andalucia was the region with the highest number of accidents and deaths last year - 632 people lost their lives in 554 accidents. Second was Catalonia, with 555 deaths in 460 accidents. But although the figures were welcomed by the local traffic chiefs, they were marred by the news of an accident in Petra yesterday, where one person died and two were injured in a head on collision which occurred at 3pm on the Manacor to Petra road. The name of the victim has not been revealed but accident reports say that he was an elderly man who was driving one of the two cars. No details have been released about the two injured parties, one of whom was rushed to hospital in Manacor, where his condition was reported to be serious, and the other was taken to a hospital in Palma.

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