January 16, 2014, a frontal collision between two vehicles left three people dead and one injured. The fact happened in kilometer 15 of the route to Caldera. (Illustrative picture) | ARCHIVO / ALONSO TENORIO
Photo of the January 16, 2014, head-on collision between two vehicles that left three people dead and one injured, at kilometre 15 (Santa Ana) of the Ruta 27. Alonso Tenorio, La Nacion

Q COSTA RICA NEWS – One third of the traffic fatalities are due to the consumption of alcohol, an increase over the last decade when in 2004 the rate was only one quarter.

This according to data released Wednesday by the Instituto sobre Alcoholismo y Farmacodependencia (IAFA) – Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Jesu Mendez, researcher at the IAFA, participating in a forum on traffic accident fatalities associated with alcohol consumption, said that in 30% of the 248 road deaths recorded last year alcohol was involved. The ratio in 2004 was 26%.

Based on data analysis by the Medicatura Forense (Forensic Medicine or Coroner) and the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC), Méndez found that the majority of these deaths are concentrated in people between the ages of 20 and 49; and in a significant proportion among motorcyclists.

For the director of the IAFA, Luis Sandi, the country needs to address this problem with a social mobilization program similar to that of several years with smoking that result in a drop in tobacco consumption.

Sandi adds that family conflicts and addiction to alcohol cause permanent catastrophes that the population has not given importance, proposing the issue be part of the national agenda, to generate changes in social behaviour.

Graphic from La Nacion
Graphic from La Nacion of statistics by the IAFA and coroner’s office.

Around the world, 1.2 million people die each year due to traffic accidents. The latest report on the subject by the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2013, estimated that some 50 million people around the world are severely affected because of alcohol consumption.

But alcohol doesn’t only play a role in traffic fatalities, it invades other facets of life in Costa Rica.

According to Mendez, in 86% of the 700 deaths last year examined by the forensics laboratory, the presence of alcohol was reported.

Traffic accidents are the third leading cause of deaths in the country, according to the INEC data released last month. Heart attacks is the leading cause, followed by stomach tumors.

Roy Rojas, project director of the Road Safety Council (Cosevi), explained that the face of death on the roads is male: the majority of the road deaths were unmarried or divorced men between the ages of 20 and 40, and who usually consume alcohol on weekends.

“Alcohol is now a part concerts, in the soccer fields and at the parties of our teenagers,” warned Rojas, who insists we must take measures, such as police spot checks on the roads.
Source: La Nacion

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