A study revealed the decrease in deaths and injuries in traffic accidents after the implementation of Riteve in Costa Rica in 2003.

The findings show that there are considerable economic gains from having a vehicular inspection system in place with high cost-benefit ratios.

Dr. Wolfgang H. Schulz from Zeppelin University, Germany, published the paper “Reducing the Death Toll of Road Accidents in Costa Rica through the Introduction of Roadworthiness Inspections by the Government”,  investigating the effects on traffic safety and the associated economic savings of the introduction of RITEVE.

The findings show that there are considerable economic gains from having such a system in place with high cost-benefit ratios.

According to the document, the public-private management established by the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) between Riteve and the Road Safety Council (Cosevi), between 2003 and 2015, prevented approximately 1,520 deaths and 120,411 injuries in traffic accidents; 301,768 cases in total were reduced during those 12 years.

With regard to the cost-benefit analysis, the research indicates that the country was able to obtain during 2003 and 2015, little more than US$2 billion dollars.

According to Riteve, currently the top three faults for which a vehicle does not pass the inspecion is:

  • gas emissions
  • braking systems
  • condition of the tires

“In Costa Rica, traffic crashes and their consequences are clearly a public health problem. They are the leading cause of violent deaths, the leading cause of death in the 10-45 years age group, and the third leading cause of years of life lost due to premature death. The cost to the country of traffic crashes amounts to almost 2.3% of the gross domestic product,” says the report.

In addition, the report credits the reduction to the introduction of a new seat belt law in 2004 accompanied by a public awareness campaign and strong police enforcement to increase seat belt usage for drivers. “The usage of seat belts increased from 24 percent to 82 percent, and the fatality rates dropped,” says the report.

Before 2002, there was not in Costa Rica a regulatory inspection regime established for safety systems (except deficient inspection of public transport vehicles).

At Riteve the vehicle must pass seven different stations. The test procedure can be described as follows:

  1. Basic exterior check (vehicle ́s turn signals, high beams/low beams, windshield wipers, horn, the angle of the headlights, tread on the tires).
  2. Basic interior check (checking the inside of the vehicles with a focus on the functioning of the seatbelts).
  3. Shocks and struts test (responsiveness of the vehicle to shocks is tested).
  4. Brake test (a computer-based measure of the ability of the brakes to stop).
  5. Side-to-side test (similar to the shock test, but each wheel is tested separately).
  6. Underbody inspection (undercarriage of the vehicle is inspected with a focus on oil leaks).
  7. Emission test (tailpipe measurement of the emission for different speed situations).

Riteve operates 13 fixed stations: Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, San José Sur, Guápiles, Puntarenas, Pérez Zeledón, San Carlos, Canas, Liberia, Limón,  and Nicoya. There are also four mobile stations outside the Great Metropolitan Area (GAM), which travel around to smaller cities and towns.

For the period from 2014 to 2017 the share of vehicles which passed the annual inspection without a defect is an average 52.5%.  In 2017, 3.7% of the inspected vehicles failed because of serious defects.

Interesting facts:

  • The average age of the vehicles inspected is of 16 years.
  • The vehicles used for tourism transportation are the youngest, and trailers and semi-trailers are the oldest.
  • 75% of the vehicles are gasoline-powered and23% diesel.
  • Only 0.03% of the vehicles are electric; 0.05%  are hybrids.

Read the full report (PDF) here.