Viewing cable 10REYKJAVIK28, DISTRACTED DRIVING DEMARCHE RESPONSE - ICELAND
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|10REYKJAVIK28||2010-02-17 16:04||2011-01-13 05:05||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Reykjavik|
VZCZCXRO5931 PP RUEHIK DE RUEHRK #0028 0481646 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 171646Z FEB 10 FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4288 INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000028 SIPDIS OES/S FOR N. CARTER-FOSTER DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CAR - KAREN JO MCISAAC E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ECON SOCI UNDP UNGA IC SUBJECT: DISTRACTED DRIVING DEMARCHE RESPONSE - ICELAND REF: STATE 06703 ¶1. (U) Emboff delivered points contained in reftel to Emil Hreggvidsson, Director of the Department of International Affairs at the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on January 15. In order to obtain the requested information, Emboff also spoke with Sigurdur Helgason, an official at the Icelandic Ministry of Transportation. ¶2. (U) According to Helgason, there is an Icelandic law in place that explicitly bans the use of a cell phone while driving. Signed in 1987, and amended in 2001, the law (Article 47 of the Icelandic Traffic Code) states that the driver of a motor vehicle is not allowed to operate a cell phone without utilizing hands-free equipment (e.g. headset). The law has not been subsequently amended to explicitly outlaw texting while operating a motor vehicle and, according to Helgason, there are no imminent plans to do so. ¶3. (U) There is little available data regarding casualties, injuries or crashes in Iceland related to talking on the phone or texting. Helgason told Emboff that existing figures on this topic are, essentially, worthless as very few drivers involved in a crash admit that cell phone usage or texting played a role in the accident, primarily because they can be fined if this turns out to be the case. He did note, however, that law enforcement officials hand out an average of 10-15 tickets per month to drivers of vehicles who are using a cell phone or texting. The current fine for breaking the law is ISK 5,000 (approximately 40 USD). ¶4. (U) Telephone and insurance companies have sponsored nation-wide awareness campaigns to discourage drivers from using cell phones or texting while operating a motor vehicle. Shortly after the law came into force, phone companies either offered headsets to people for free or provided them at a significant discount. Many private companies have also provided their employees with the equipment for free. Insurance companies, meanwhile, have publicly encouraged people to park their vehicles while texting or speaking on the phone if they don't possess the necessary headset equipment. ¶5. (U) There are some indications that these legal measures and awareness campaigns in Iceland are working. The Association of Icelandic Insurance Companies has conducted several surveys on the topic and their studies indicate that the usage of hands-free equipment among drivers is increasing. It is estimated, according to these studies, that about 25% of Icelandic drivers currently use the hands-free equipment on a regular basis. ¶6. (U) The overall use of cell phones and text messaging devices remains prevalent in Iceland. According to the Office of Statistics in Iceland, 99 percent of the nation's citizens carry a cell phone. The Office of Statistics also reported that the total number of cell phone minutes utilized in Iceland in 2008 was 677,880 (thousands of minutes); the total number of short text messages (SMS) sent were 143,216 (thousands of messages); and the total number of multimedia messaging services (MMS) sent were 941 (thousands of messages). WATSON