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Ecuador: Twitter Campaign Against Car Accidents

#sitomasnomanejes [if you drink, don’t drive] is the recent Twitter campaign to reduce the number of deaths from traffic accidents in Ecuador. Twitter users have been hashtagging #sitomasnomanejes amidst the nationwide commotion caused by recent and fatal car accidents  [es] and discussions regarding the country’s new traffic law.

Image by Flickr user matias.dutto used under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license

Steve (@stevecede) asks drivers to be careful before the weekend’s festivities:

Pila gente jueves de vacile pero #sitomasnomanejes no lo olvides

Enjoy a fun Thursday, but don’t forget #sitomasnomanejes [if you drink, don't drive]

Criticoecuatoriano (@CriticoEcuatoriano) reminds followers::

Como estamos en la campaña #sitomasnomanejes vamos en un solo carro y ya esta la persona q va a manejar designada!

Since we are in solidarity with the #sitomasnomanejes campaign, we are going all together in one car with a designated driver!

In his blog entitled Sostiene Raúl Zavala [es], Raul Zavala (@periodista_PTV) explains the campaign’s content:

Hace unas semanas .. un ebrio al volante embistió a un grupo que salía de una discoteca; muertos, heridos, alteración popular y el vehículo incendiado. Este hecho paso casi inadvertido. Al poco tiempo, en Guayaquil, un conductor que dijo haberse quedado dormido luego de beber 2 vasos de whiskey, atropelló a otro grupo de personas; resultados: muertos, alteración social y un vehículo incendiado.

Some weeks ago, a drunk guy at the wheel charged at a group of youth leaving a dance club; some died, others were wounded, social detriment and the vehicle went up in flames. This went practically unpunished. A short while ago, in Guayaquil, a driver who claims to have fallen asleep at the wheel after drinking two cups of whiskey hit a group of people; the result: people died, social detriment and the vehicle went up in flames.

The national media have joined the campaign, giving it all the multimedia coverage possible, with live chats and videos on YouTube of conversations with the police [es]. The Twitter version of the HOY [es] newspaper states:

El mayor Zapata dio datos impactantes sobre accidentes de tránsito en primicia para HOY y los espectadores de este chat que se presentarán mañana en un informe de la Dirección de Tránsito en Quito.

Major Zapata provided impressive data on traffic accidents exclusively for HOY and for viewers of this chat, which will be presented tomorrow in a report from the Quito Department of Transportation.

This campaign is based on two underlying aspects. One is the extremely high rate of traffic accidents throughout the country, with more than 2,000 deaths attributed to road accidents in 2010 alone, according to the enterateecuador [es] webpage.

Carla Loaiza (@Celf1988) re-tweeted her frustration with fatal traffic accidents:

Hay quienes no entienden #sitomasnomanejes Otro conductor ebrio provocó accidente #Ecuador http://cort.as/0All

Some people just don’t get #sitomasnomanejes. Another drunk driver causes an accident #Ecuador http://cort.as/0All

The blog entitled Latinoamericano Tercermundo [es] emphasizes personal blame and the usefulness of the Twitter campaign:

es realmente excelente la forma como hemos reaccionado tratando de concienciar a traves del twitter con el hastag #sitomasnomanejes. Pero en la próxima ocasión que nos toque ser participes o cómplices de la tremenda cojudes atentatoria a la vida propia y la ajena, que implica manejar plutote o ser acompañante del borracho hagamos algo mas útil que solamente sumarnos a la corriente twitera del momento. No te subas a ese carro y no dejes que maneje ese borracho.

The way we have reacted, trying to increase awareness through Twitter with the #sitomasnomanejes hashtag, has been excellent. But next time we are apt to be participants or accomplices to the tremendously idiotic attempt on your life and on the lives of others, which means driving hammered or getting in the car with a drunk, let’s do something more useful than just joining the trendy Twitter campaign. Don’t get in the car, and don’t let the drunk guy drive.

Videos like this have been posted on the web and by bloggers throughout the country who have been moved by the increase in traffic tragedies:

The author of the blog Reflexiones del Tio Charly [es] writes:

HE visto con mucho agrado en TWITTER que se ha iniciado una campaña de concienciación sobre el riesgo que implica manejar bajo los efectos del alcohol. Y me es muy interesante el saber que la idea nace de la propia gente “común”, de aquella que según las concepciones clásicas no tiene poder o injerencia alguna en las conductas sociales; no nació de un grupo político o de una entidad estatal, nació de la indignación y tristeza que todos sentimos al ver como vidas son desperdiciadas por irresponsabilidad de conductores.

I have been very pleased with the Twitter campaign I am seeing to raise awareness for the risks of driving while under the influence of alcohol. And I find it very interesting that this idea was born from the “common” folk, from those who classically are not considered to have any power whatsoever or any influence in social behavior; this movement did not come from a political group or a state entity, but rather form the indignity and sadness we all feel by seeing lives destroyed by driver irresponsibility.

Minuto30.com [es] and other bloggers agree with the extent of the problem; the webpage references Analyst Fernando Carrión:

“Los accidentes viales han dejado de ser tales en el país, debido a la frecuencia con que se producen, hasta el extremo de que se han constituido en mal endémico; tan es así la situación que el Ecuador ocupa el nada honroso segundo lugar en accidentalidad vial en América Latina”

“Road accidents have ceased to be such in this country given the frequency with which they occur, to the point of being viewed as an endemic evil; the situation is so pervasive that Ecuador has the terrible honor of ranking second in the number of traffic accidents in Latin America.”

The second aspect of the campaign is focused on Ecuador’s National Assembly, where Andes [es] reports that traffic accidents are treated like “a public alarm.” B10 [es] sharply points out the correlation of accidents to the country’s traffic legislation:

Cifras fatales: en el 2009 hubo 19.143 colisiones y atropellamientos que causaron la muerte de 1.990 personas. Este año, solo entre enero y junio, se superó esa cifra. Las autoridades tienen fondos y la ley para actuar, pero responden a intereses creados, junto a mafias que no ceden, y buscan salidas polItiqueras: reformar la Ley, cuando tienen que aplicarla bien.

Fatal figures: in 2009, there were 19,143 collisions and accidents that lead to the death of 1,990 people. This year, from January to June alone, the number of deaths has exceeded all of 2009. The authorities have the funds and the law as tools to act, but they respond to invented interests and to mafias that do not budge, and they seek poll-based ways out: reforming the laws, when they actually have to apply them well.

The national police have now joined the voices clamoring for change; in their support for alterations to the Traffic Law [es], they have asked the National Assembly that it reform the penalties and fines levied on people who drive while inebriated. La Hueca [es] comments on this aspect in her blog, reflecting on the new Overland Traffic and Transportation Law, which has gone through multiple changes, since the last version included a series of contradictory and inconsistent provisions. Now in effect, the new law [es] fills in a vacuum, since the country lacks a legal framework for driving organization, regulation and control.

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