QCOSTARICA – A 32% decrease in road deaths last year would be an indirect effect of the health vehicle restriction introduced since mid-March as a measure to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
At least that is how traffic authorities justify it by stating that the number of deaths related to traffic accidents did not exceed 300 people for the first time since 2013.
In 2019 this number reached 440.
As is already a trend, motorcyclists registered a greater number of incidents and recklessness at the wheel continued as the main cause of death at the wheel, according to the report.
“It is clear that the circulation limitations, around the Covid-19 pandemic, positively influenced these results, but the variable with greater control on the road was also fundamental. We do nothing with letting out only eight plates per day, if there is no police presence on the road,” explained German Marín, director of the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police).
Marín pointed out that this measure allowed fewer officers to attend accidents, since last year less than 57,000 events were registered while in 2019 there were almost 86,000 and required to dedicate more personnel to control, operations and checkpoints.
As an example of tighter restrictions, during the previous December 24 and 31, when the measures were tightened, the night time restrictions went into effect at 7:00 pm instead of 10 pm.
“It is an effective measure to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 contagion and is a tool that the Ministry of Health interposed to protect the lives of Costa Ricans and not compromise the capacity of the hospital system,” Agustín Castro said at the time, Minister of Communication.
However, without a question the measure has also become a good source of income for the Government, where more than 294,000 traffic violations issued between April and October for disrespecting the sanitary vehicle restriction, provifing the government coffers more than ¢17 billion colones in gross revenue, according to a query made to theduring November to the Consejo de Seguridad Vial (Cosevi) – Road Safety Council – the government agency that oversees driver’s licensing, road education, safety and fines.
Currently, the complete sanitary vehicle restriction is maintained from Monday to Friday from 10:00 pm at 5:00 am, with exemptions and on weekends from 9:00 pm to 5:00 am.
During the month of January, the daytime restrictions (from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm weekdays and 5:00 am to 9:00 pm weekends) prohibits vehicles from circulating based on the last digit of the licesne plate as follows:
- Mondays, vehicles with plates ending in 1 & 2 cannot circulate
- Tuedays, vehicles with plates ending in 3 & 4 cannot circulate
- Wednesdays, vehicles with plates ending in 5 & 6 cannot circulate
- Thursdays, vehicles with plates ending in 7 & 8 cannot circulate
- Fridays, vehicles with plates ending in 9 & 0 cannot circulate
- Saturdays, vehicles with plates ending in 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9 cannot circulate
- Sundays, vehicles with plates ending in 2, 4, 6, 8 & 0 cannot circulate
The government circular below states states which plates cannot cricular on weedays and which can on weekends. Confusing, because the plates that can circulate negates those that can’t, as described above.
In addition to the vehicular restrictions, up to January 17 (unless changed), beaches can only be open between 5:00 amd 2:30 pm; bars and casinos can ony operate at 25% capacity (based on their sanitary operating permit)); while national parks at 50% capacity.
The measures (including the vehicle restricitons) are nationwide. The fine for violating the vehicle restrictions is ¢108,000 colones, plus costs (vehicles or plates are no longer being seized and no points on the license); bars and casino, as national parks, face temporary or permanent closures and/or fines.
For complete “official” information and any last minute changes, visit www.presidencia.go.cr/alertas.