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Traffic Deaths Prompt Safety Plan

December 22, 2006

While Costa Rica’s highway fatalities this year were expected to surpass last year’s 616, President Oscar Arias and several public ministers presented a Roadway Safety Plan that includes a stiffer Traffic Law.

The proposed reforms would increase speeding fines from $40 to $350, and driving-under-the-influence-of-alcohol fines from $40 to $545.

As in recent years, being struck by a vehicle is the country’s most common manner of violent death. Most victims are pedestrians, many of them younger than 25 years old. “For every homicide, in Costa Rica, there are 2.5 deaths from traffic accidents,” Arias said.

Public Works and Transport Minister Karla González called the combination of Costa Rican roads and drivers a “time bomb.” The plan she supports will fund road safety classes in public schools, add 300 transit police to the current roster of 700, fund more road improvements and seek to make highway cops less prone to extort motorists.

The daily La Nación reported Costa Rica’s Social Security System spends $7 million a year on crash-related medical costs.

Citizens and leaders of 21 Latin American and Caribbean countries gathered in San José in June, calling on international development banks to put more money for road safety.

At year-end, the Transit Law reforms were on the docket of the Legislative Assembly’s Legal Affairs Commission.

 

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