Being courteous and respectful to other drivers could reduce traffic congestion on Costa Rica's roads' Photo Jorge Navarro
Being courteous and respectful to other drivers could greatly help reduce traffic congestion on Costa Rica’s roads’ Photo Jorge Navarro

COSTA RICA NEWS — Roy Rojas, an international consultant on road safety and project director for the Consejo de Seguridad Vial (COSEVI), explains that in Costa Rica there are too many cars for the amount of roads, but that’s not the only problem for the cause of the congestion.

According to the expert, drivers contribute greatly to the congestion facing the country, saying there are four critical areas that require change.

Error number one

During peak hours, it is common to see drivers block intersections. Sometimes it’s simply egoism, not wanting another to get ahead, and sometimes its carelessness or recklessness.

“Although it is punishable in this country it is not respected. People stop in the middle of the intersection and generate congestion,” says Rojas.

With the simple of act of giving way, taking turns, one at a time, traffic fluidity can greatly increase.

Error number two

Not merging in traffic in areas where two or more lanes become one. There are many, many roads in Costa Rica where multiple lanes become one, not only due to construction, but simply bad road infrastructure.

Zipper merge, it would require a change of culture of it to be applied in Costa Rica.
Zipper merge, it would require a change of culture of it to be applied in Costa Rica.

In other countries drivers zipper merge, an action when drivers use both lanes of traffic until reaching the defined merge area, and then alternate in “zipper” fashion into the open lane.

Zipper merging rarely happens on Costa Rica’s roads, be it where lanes are reduced or on ramps on highways. Simply, traffic on the closing lane or ramp has to come to a stop, waiting for the moving lanes to give space.

This is a common occurrence every day on just about every road in the country. A prime example is on the autopista General Cañas, where two and three lanes become one and two ahead of bridges. At the Virilla bridge, for example, traffic backs up more several kilometres in the San José direction in the mornings and Alajuela in the afternoons. A zipper merge could shave off time and wasted fuel.

Error number three

The expert says that texting while driving, or putting on makeup or talking on a cell phone or other sinillar distractions all generate traffic delays. Rojas explains that in traffic jams and at traffic lights, many drivers use the “dead time” to surf the internet and other things other distractions that take away driver eyes on the road.

“While other vehicles are moving, these are not,” says Rojas.

The delayed seconds that a driver does not advance only a few metres slows other drivers, causing a domino effect that results in heavier congestion. If all drivers are paying attention to the traffic condition, especially at traffic lights, eliminating that second or two of distraction can reduce congestion.

Error number four

Not using the “rotondas” correctly.

Ticos don't know how to use a rotonda.
Ticos don’t know how to use a rotonda.

Rojas points out that Costa Ricans do not know how to use the rotondas in the right way, with reckless maneuvers that further traffic congestion and place other drivers at risk.

According to the expert, a common error is being in the inside lane when having to exit the rotunda. The driver has to then move across traffic to leave the rotunda, slowing down other vehicles and risking an accident.

“To not crash, other drivers have to slow down or stop, leading to more congestion,” explains Rojas.


Rojas and other experts agree that if Ticos would modify their driving habits in the forgoing four areas, and apply prudence and defence driving methods there would be fewer accidents and less congestion.

Rojas and other experts agree that being courteous to other drivers, car pooling and using public transport helps reduce bottlenecks and congestion on the country’s roads.

Source:; with editing from the Q!

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