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Cablegate: Romania: Distracted Driving Demarche Delivered

VZCZCXRO7161
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHBM #0068 0360514
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050514Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0308
INFO RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000068

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR OES/S NANCY CARTER-FOSTER, EUR/CE ASCHEIBE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON SOCI UNDP UNGA EU RO
SUBJECT: ROMANIA: DISTRACTED DRIVING DEMARCHE DELIVERED

REF: STATE 6703

Sensitive But Unclassified; not for Internet Distribution.

1. (U) Post delivered reftel demarche to the General Inspectorate
of the Romanian Police, under the Ministry of Administration and
Interior, which is responsible for traffic safety and enforcement.
The General Inspectorate has provided post a written response dated
January 29 to reftel points and questions.

2. (U) According to the General Inspectorate, a Government
Ordinance (which has the force of law) issued in 2002 outlaws cell
phone usage, except with hands-free devices, while driving in
Romania. This is interpreted to mean use of cell phones both for
talking and for texting. Violators incur fines as well as penalty
points on their driving records. In 2009, the police recorded
63,782 infractions of this ordinance. Although the police do not
have detailed data on the number of injuries and fatalities
specifically associated with distracted driving, they estimate that
mobile phone usage or texting while driving contributed to
approximately five percent of the almost 10,000 motor vehicle
accidents nationwide in 2009.

3. (U) During the last quarter of 2009, the Traffic Police
Directorate within the General Inspectorate of Police, in
cooperation with partners from civil society and the media, started
a national campaign called "Take Life in Your Own Hands." The
public awareness campaign focused on educating Romanian drivers
about "hands free" devices and involved the distribution of more
than 200,000 flyers and posters with prevention messages.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: As is often the case in Romania, the problem
lies not with laws and regulations but with their implementation.
Enforcement of traffic laws is inconsyE1\Do
likely that "distracted pedestrians" contribute to this problem, as
cell phone use by pedestrians is ubiquitous and police statistics
show that auto-pedestrian accidents are the number one source of
traffic fatalities in Romania. The prevalence of distracted
driving, and of accidents associated with it, is likely higher than
reported. END COMMENT.

GITENSTEIN

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