The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) this week unveiled proposed reforms to the nation’s Traffic Law as part of the government’s attempt to put the brakes on Costa Rica’s rising highway death toll. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of violent death in Costa Rica, claiming more than 600 lives a year for the past five years and driving up costs for the nation’s public health system.
“Deaths and injuries on the highway are acts of violence that dramatically impact the social fabric,” President Oscar Arias said in a statement Tuesday.
The administration first announced the reforms as part of its Roadway Safety Plan in August (TT, Aug. 25). The plan aims to reduce the number of highway deaths by 19% over the next five years. It would also increase the number of traffic cops, boost fines for traffic violations and fund a range of roadway infrastructure improvements.
MOPT presented the proposed reforms Tuesday to the Executive Branch, which will look over the bill before sending it to the Legislative Assembly.
The proposal was met with criticism from some lawmakers.
Libertarian Movement party leader Evita Arguedas said the project doesn’t provide enough funding for the nation’s understaffed, underfunded Transit Police.
“The 2007 budget leaves out nearly 50% of the equipment needed for the police to do their job of stopping the escalating violence and it doesn’t cover their needs for more vehicles and infrastructure,” Arguedas said in a statement.