TICO BULL by Rico – Driving and using a cellular phone is banned in Costa Rica, sanctioned by a ¢103,679 colones fine. But bus drivers in the country don’t seem to care much about this, talking on their cellular phone with impunity.
According to figures by the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police) in 2016, a total of 2,881 drivers received a ticket for using their cellular phone while behind the wheel.
Although the figures don’t reveal how many of the tickers were to bus drivers, the chief the traffic police, Mario Calderon, assures “there have been cases”, but did to provide details.
One of the main stumbling blocks in fining drivers – all drivers – is that a Transito (traffic official) has to witness the violation. That is, a Transito has to personally see a driver using his or her ceullar phone and pull over the driver and issue then a ticket.
When it comes to bus drivers, the police chief says, “what the user can do is call the bus company and file a complaint, we know that there are many reasonable and responsible companies.”
The idea here is that the bus companies regulate their own. But does it happen? What do you think?
Susana Lopez, deputy director and interim legal counsel for the Consejo de Transporte Publico (CTP), the division of the Ministry of Transport (MOPT) that regulates public services,including issuing concessions to bus operatos, recommends “users have an electronic mechanism (camera), maybe capture the action, make it public (publish on social media) and/or bring it to the attention of the (bus) company”.
According to Lopez, the user can also file an official complaint with the CTP and report the company (not necessarily the driver).
Now can you see that happening? Even you taking such action?
You are on the bus on your way to work or home, or shopping, whatever and you see your driver happily chatting – even worse – texting away, his or her eyes on the cell phone and not the road.
What do you do?
Like most, nothing. Maybe you give the driver a dirty look, or grumble something under your breath. But do you dare calling him or her (yes, there some women bus drivers) on it? It’s almost like complaining to your taxi driver for his (or her)…well you get the picture.
Lets be realistic, filing a complaint with the company and even the CTP means having physical evidence such as photos or videos, the bus and/or license plate number and the time, date and place of the violation.
At best, publishing the photo or video on social media like Facebook is perhaps the only real recourse a user has.
Luis Diego Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Cámara Nacional de Autobuseros (Canabús) – National Chamber of Bus Operators – told La Nacion the bus companies train their employees and prohibit the use of cellular phones while behind the wheel.
“It is not good to have a driver committing something prohibited by law. It is about the safety of users,” said Gonzalez.
Manuel Muñoz, spokesman for the company Lumaca (route between Cartago and San José), told La Nacion that at his company the complaints are few and explains, “in such a case the driver is called in and given first a verbal warning. If it happens again, other measures are taken”. He did not explain what the other measures were.
Muñoz added, “sometimes users do not know if the driver is on an emergency call or talking with his superiors.”
Do you see the logic behind that statement?
If a company knows talking on a cellular phone is against the law and even sanctions a driver if a complaint is received, why would they be calling or allowing a call from a driver?
Pura vida, mae.
Use the comment section below to tell your experience with bus drivers.