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Cablegate: Demarche Delivered: Distracted Driving in Colombia

VZCZCXRO3429
RR RUEHAST RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHTRO
DE RUEHBO #0123 0322205
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 012204Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2439
INFO ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000123

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON SOCI UNDP UNGA EU CO
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE DELIVERED: DISTRACTED DRIVING IN COLOMBIA

REF: STATE 6703

1. (SBU) Summary. Econoff delivered reftel demarche to Jorge
Carrillo Tobos, the Director of Transportation and Transit at the
Ministry of Transportation on January 25. Carrillo responded that
Colombia passed a 2002 law making it illegal to drive and use a
mobile communication device unless the device is hands-free. The
Ministry of Transportation, via its Accident Prevention Fund,
conducted a road safety awareness campaign on the dangers of cell
phone use while driving after the passage of the law. End Summary.

2. (U) Econoff delivered reftel demarche on January 25 to Jorge
Carrillo Tobos, the Director of Transportation and Transit at the
Ministry of Transportation. Carillo responded that in 2002 Colombia
passed Law 769 under the National Transport Code which makes the
"use of mobile communications systems or a telephone in a vehicle
while driving, except those that are used with accessories or
additional equipment that allow hands-free use" punishable by a
fine of 15 days of minimum wage.

3. (U) The Ministry, through its Accident Prevention Fund, has
conducted a road safety campaign targeting cell phone

use while driving. In 2009, there were 57,253 infractions under the
law and in 2010, there have been 1,657 infractions. Carrillo said
that distracted driving, including texting while driving, is of
growing concern in Colombia, but that no exact figures exist to
document distracted driving as a cause of accidents. Carrillo added
that his office was also concerned about other kinds of
distractions to drivers, such as moving vehicles that display large
advertisements on Colombian highways.

4. (SBU) Comment. Post notes that many driving dangers exist in
Colombia. In many cases, drivers ignore even basic traffic laws.
The Ministry of Transportation hired experts in 2008 to conduct an
analysis of road behavior in the cities of Bogota, Medellin, Cali,
Barranquilla and other smaller cities. The report found that 25% of
those surveyed admitted to ignoring traffic lights and 40% believe
that drinking and driving does not cause accidents. While the GOC
acknowledges the dangers of texting while driving, and Colombia in
fact outlaws cell phone use while driving, enforcement and
awareness of traffic laws remains a key challenge. End Comment.
BROWNFIELD

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