QCOSTARICA – Every 6 minutes the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police) attends a traffic accident, that totalled 41,779 in the first half of the year: an average of 10 accidents an hour, 231 a day.
The Director de la Policía de Tránsito, Mario Calderón, says most of the accidents arise from the negligence, carelessness, road rage of drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, day and night.
The director emphasized that in many cases accidents occur due distractions, drivers talking on the phone or to passengers, a momentary loss of concentration. In other cases, slamming on the brakes results in many rear-end collisions, this because many drivers don’t maintain a proper distance.
Other dangerous driving practices include trying to squeezing through narrow spaces, such as in traffic congestion, mostly due to lack of courtesy among drivers, motorcyclists zigzagging through traffic and pedestrians refusing to use the overpasses.
When an accident occurs, no matter the cause or the seriousness, given the small size of the traffic police force and the time to collect all the pertinent information, there is a lag time response, especially in peak hours, which in the Central Valley could be said to be from 6:00am to 7:00pm weekdays,
Basically there are some 900 “active” traffic officials in the country, working around the clock in three shifts of 300 per shift, patrolling 35,000 kilometres of national and local roads. The small force is also required to maintain a group of officials who maintain control only in the immediate area of the airports.
Once a traffic official is at the scene of the accident, the process can take up to 90 minutes, if there fatalities, ties up one more of officials for hours, while waiting for judicial officials (the OIJ, a prosecutor and judge, for example) to arrive at the scene.
In the 41,779 accidents between January 1 and June 30 this year, there were 202 fatalities recorded and another 5,776 injured. The number of fatalities does not take into account those who died in hospital after leaving the scene of the accident.
When it comes to fining drivers, Transitos (traffic officials) are constantly kept busy.
According to the Policia de Transito statistics, on average a traffic ticket is issued every 2 minutes. In the first six months of 2015, traffic officials issued 116,518 traffic tickets for a wide range of violations. Driving without a license (10,781), being one of the major. Speeding drivers accounted for 3,629 tickets, 975 drivers were charged criminally for being drunk behind the wheel. And 3,819 vehicles and 15,719 license plates were seized for various violations under the traffic laws.
With respect to illegal taxis, the Policia de Transito reports issuing 3,729 tickets.