The San José - Caldera is now the "deadliest" highway.
The San José – Caldera is now the “deadliest” highway.

Sunday’s tragic accident that killed six converts the Ruta 27 (San José – Caldera) the deadliest in the country. So far this year eleven people have lost their lives on the road to the Pacific coast.

The major cause of accidents on the 78 kilometres stretch of road between the La Sabana and the Puero Caldera is reckless driving.

In the first 18 weeks (January 1 to May 11) of the year, the road has claimed eleven lives, while in 2013 the total number of fatalities was 14.

“Last year the San José – Caldera was the sixth deadliest in the country in terms of fatalities, in the first half of the year, it went to first”, said Angie Meneses, spokeswoman for the Dirección de la Policía de Tránsito (traffic police).

Crossing the median to oncoming traffic to pass vehicles is the leading cause of the fatal accidents on the San José – Caldera.

231460_muertospuerto1On Sunday, near the Jesús María river, in Esparza, Puntarenas, two vehicles slammed into each other head on – a light passenger vehicle with six passengers and an SUV. The front end of the smaller vehicle, a Hyundai sedan, was completely destroyed. All six passengers died – four (three adults and a minor) at the scene, while two minors were taken to hospital in Puntarenas where they later died from their injuries. One of the minors was thrown out of the vehicle, onto the road, from the impact of the collision. While the two passengers in the Mitsubishi SUV received bumps and bruises.

Excessive speeding and drunk driving are other causes of fatal accidents on the road that weaves through the valley between Orotina and Puriscal.

It is not uncommon to see vehicles, many of which are meant for high speeds and mountainous conditions, cross the median to pass other vehicles, exceeding the 80/90 km/h speed limits. And then there are vehicles travelling at 40 km/h (the minimum posted limit on the road). Some vehicles even travel the road at night with no lights (headlights and/or tail lights).

The Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales (LANAMME) – National Laboratory for Materials and Structural Models, at the University of Costa Rica, recommends a double yellow lines to avoid “rayar” (crossing the median and speeding in Spanish) and the construction of barriers dividing the road to avoid crossing onto oncoming traffic.

“We have made recommendations based on international practices to avoid the invasion of lanes…” Erick Acosta, head of LANAMME traffic safety, told La Nacion.

According to the LANAMME, the government should not wait for the concessionaire – Autopistas del Sol – to make the road safer.

Although the road is operated under concession, it is up to the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT), the government, to take the necessary measures, according to Acosta.

Coming second to the Ruta 27 in terms of fatalities and dangerous roads is the Florencio del Castillo, the section of the Interamericana Sur (Ruta 2), from San José to Cartago. The Florencio del Castillo has recorded nine deaths so far this year.

Third is the General Cañas – Bernardo Soto section of the Interamericana Norte (Ruta 1), that runs from La Sabana to the San Ramón.

Source: La Nacion,