QCOSTARICA – Drivers who have their vehicles insured and involved in a minor collision, can now reach a settlement for damages, without having to calling the traffic police to the scene.
This is possible thanks to the signing on Tuesday of an executive order by President Luis Guillermo Solis and the Minister of Transport, Carlos Segnini.
Sebastian Urbina, deputy minister of Transport, said the traffic law already permits such resolutions among drivers. However, some insurers do not allow their customers to move the vehicles without a police report, to prevent fraud.
However, with the publication of the decree, insurers will be required to allow conciliation without the presence of a traffic official.
Urbina was emphatic that the rule only applies to collisions where there is only material damage; if people are injured, a traffic official is required at the scene.
Insured drivers involved in minor collisions will be required to fill out a form called the Declaratoria de Accidente Menor (DAM), to be supplied by the insurance companies, where all personal information and details of the collision are recorded, as well as the acceptance of responsibility of the driver causing the collision. Photos and witness statements can be attached to the document.
The decree does not, however, force conciliation. That is, if the parties cannot come to a mutual agreement, they can wait for arrival of a transit official and continue with the normal process of accident reporting.
The aim is to reduce traffic congestion, many times caused by fender-benders, choking roads while waiting for a Tránsito to arrive at the scene of the accident, which can be hours at peak times.
According to the traffic police (Policia de Transito), in San Jose alone there are some 4,000 traffic accidents monthly; that is on average more than 130 each day.
The traffic police force has only 763 officials, working in three shifts, to cover the entire country, patrolling some 5,000 kilometres of national roads and 42,000 kilometres of side roads.
“This helps us in that the officers can now continue their patrol work and attending major accidents.,” said Mario Calderon, the head of the traffic police.
“I think insurance should be mandatory; what happens is that many people do no insure their vehicles and we have to work on changing that culture,” said the Transport Minister.