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More than 350 road accident deaths this year, MOPT says

November 7, 2019

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) says traffic police will intensify their efforts in November and December to reduce the amount of fatal road accidents in Costa Rica.

MOPT cited a recent rise in alcohol-related incidents — which includes the deaths of three U.S. tourists in late October — and the upcoming holiday season as reasons for the increased vigilance.

Traffic police will more strictly monitor speeding, improper passing and whether vehicles are carrying above the legal limit of occupants, MOPT says.

“It is alarming to see that various operations across the country continue to detect drivers who insist on driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances harmful to proper road conduct,” said German Marin Sandí, Director General of Traffic Police.

MOPT has recorded 352 deaths “at the site of the accident” in 2019, with October (44 deaths) and March (47) the most dangerous months.

Eighty-one deaths have been attributed to reckless driving; 70 to lane invasions; 63 to speeding; 42 to pedestrian recklessness; and 22 to intoxication.

(MOPT says the official causes of death and perpetrators must be determined via a judicial process, meaning the above data is “probable cause” only. The figures consequently do not include contributing factors such as poor road infrastructure.)

Of the 352 fatalities, nearly half (174) were driving or riding on a motorcycle. Sixty-three were car occupants, while 28 were on bicycles.

“To successfully reduce road deaths, particularly for motorcyclists, it goes two ways: on the one hand, more responsible road attitudes from the motorcyclist, but on the other, a culture of greater respect from other drivers to them,” Marin said. 

Costa Rica’s driving woes are nothing new. In 2015, navigation platform Waze ranked Costa Rica among the world’s worst countries in which to drive, blaming the frequency and severity of traffic jams, lack of driver services, and poor road infrastructure.

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