Every year, around this exact same time, we experience a huge influx of traffic on the island’s roads. There are more hire cars, more scooters, more people in general; there’s more stress, more drinking, more partying, more places to go and people to see. And sadly – so very sadly – there are also a lot of accidents, injuries and even fatalities. With that in mind, and with much respect to those who lost their lives on our roads over the past week, I’d like to make today’s blog post a public safety announcement: let’s make Ibiza safe again.
Last week was a particularly treacherous one. Every time I looked on social media, I saw yet another article in the local news about car or moto accidents in Ibiza, with two of them being fatal – along with so many distressed and upset comments from those who were affected by the incidents, whether they had witnessed the accidents, were friends of the victims, or had been involved in some way themselves. We really are a small community here, so when something tragic happens, the locals do come together to support one another and over the past few days, there’s been a lot of calls on local residents’ social media groups to raise awareness for road safety. Now that the summer is in full swing however, we need to go beyond those who live here, and also appeal to the greater community of holidaymakers to help keep our roads safe.
The thought that there are people coming to our beautiful island – whether to start a new life, to visit friends and family, or for the holiday of their dreams – and never, ever going home again is truly heartbreaking. If you are reading this blog, then I truly implore you to PLEASE drive safely. Stick to the speed limit, follow the road rules, pay attention to your surroundings, go slowly on caminos with limited visibility, keep your eyes on upcoming intersections, stop at pedestrian crossings, don’t talk or text on the phone, don’t take photos or videos while you’re driving, keep your cool if someone in front of you appears lost or drives slowly, keep your distance if they drive erratically, don’t bully other drivers and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T DRINK (OR TAKE DRUGS) AND DRIVE.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But as my friend Mr BB pointed out (yes, you all know who I’m talking about!) in a recent post, it’s often this last point that is ignored more than all the others (and as much by residents as tourists – there’s no passing the buck here). Excuses like: ‘I need my car in the morning’ or ‘I can’t get a taxi’ or ‘There’s no one to give me a lift’ should never ever give anyone the confidence to get behind the wheel of a car if they’ve been drinking (or whatever else). Because no matter how good a driver you think you are, there’s no denying that your skills are impaired (not to mention you’re breaking the laws). Pair that with the amount of kamikaze rental car drivers who don’t know where they’re going, are driving on a different side of the road than they’re used to, who are looking at GPS screens instead of the road – the odds are not stacked in your favour.
So what’s the solution? We need more police controls obviously and we oh-so-clearly need a better public transport system. Without Uber, we clearly also need more taxis, and taxis that can be easily accessed by visitors to the island who don’t speak Spanish to call a taxi company. Thankfully, in the past month, an all-new licensed taxi apphas been introduced, and according to all reports functions very well – no matter how far in the back of beyond you might find yourself. Perhaps we need more public service announcements – like billboards or posters on the backs of toilet doors in clubs – that remind people of things like this. In California, where marijuana has been legalised, there are ‘don’t smoke and drive’ ads everywhere you go – why not, in a place like Ibiza, where partying is de rigueur, follow suit and remind people not to drink and drive? Subliminally… it could hopefully sink in.
The other thing to think about is that these accidents are not just happening in the middle of the night – when one might presume is dangerous. They happen at 4pm in the afternoon, at 8pm just before the sunset, at 9am after the school run – there’s no typical time or place. And it’s not always drugs or alcohol to blame. Sometimes the road conditions are unsafe, sometimes the tyres on a moped are old and slip out from under it, sometimes a dog runs in front of a car, sometimes you’re tired and you think you see a green light when it’s actually red – there’s no rhyme or reason. That’s why they’re called accidents. We all need to drive carefully, and defensively, especially now there are so many new people on our roads. So many of Ibiza’s roads are incredibly beautiful, and lead us all to magical places and experiences – let’s look out for one another and make sure we all get to where we’re going (and back home again) in one piece.