Legislators are considering a novel approach to eliminating, at least reduce, collisions with the train by proposing to send imprudent drivers to driver education classes, in addition to paying the traffic ticket.
The proposed legislation amends the Ley de Transito that would see a driver involved in a crash with the train lose six points on their license, which means a mandatory attendance of ‘awareness and re-education classes’ when it comes time to renew their license.
Other changes proposed by legislators are raising the traffic fine of between ¢94,000 and ¢189,000 (plus costs) from the current ¢52,000 for damages to a train locomotice, car or railway crossing. In addition, owners (not the driver) of vehicles parked on a railway or obstruct the passage of the train will incur a fine of ¢94,000 (plus costs).
“In this way we continue to reinforce specific actions to improve people’s mobility, introducing modifications that improve the relationship of the necessary coexistence of vehicles and the train, with the aim of achieving fewer accidents,” said Enrique Sánchez, legislator for the Partido Acción Ciudadano (PAC), proponent of the bill.
According to figures by the Incofer (the railway), in 2018, there were 64 fewer crashes with the commuter train, compared to 2017 when the total was 156, up from 117 the year before.
However, in 2018 there were more fatalities.
The 84 accidents in 2018 left 12 people dead: five lost their lives in vehicles crashing with the train and another seven died after being run over by the train. While in 2017 there were 10 deaths, one in a crash and nine run over.
The points system
All drivers in Costa Rica start out with 12 points, that in addition to traffic fines, are reduced depending on the infraction.
When it comes time to renew a drivers license, a driver with a good driving record will have their license renewed for six years and with 12 available points. The cost for this renewal is ¢5,000 colones.
On the other hand, a driver with a not so good record behind the wheel, that is with points deducted, with have some restrictions on their driver’s license.
With a between 5 and 8 points deduction, the renewal is only for 4 years and with only 8 points (instead of the 12). With a between 9 and 11 points deduction, the license renewal is only for 3 years and with only 6 points (instead of the 12). The cost for the foregoing renewals, even though for less time, is still ¢5,000 colones.
Losing all 12 points currently means losing a drivers license for one year and attending driver education.
Each year the Incofer incurs costs in the million of colones for damage to their locomotives, railway cars, track and railway level crossings by imprudent drivers. In very few cases has the Incofer been able to recover costs.