The “Rocas de Carretera”!

Why do drivers drive slow and stay in the left lane even when obvious there are vehicles behind?



Rico’s TICO BULL – A Transito or Trafico (what a traffic police official is called in Costa Rica) sees an old car driving on the left lane of the Ruta 27. He’s doing 40 kp/h in a 80 kp/h zone. The car is a relic, bungee cords and duct tape keeping it together, despite having the Riteve up to date.

The Transito pulls the driver over. When asked why they are driving so slow in the fast lane, the driver says “well, that’s as fast as my car can go!”


Ok, first off it is far-fetched that a Transito would pull over a vehicle for driving slow in the left or fast lane in Cosa Rica. And second, on the Ruta 27 (I used it purposely for the made up story that is true), the “minimum” speed limit on that road – I refuse to call it a highway – is 40 km/h. There are signs posted to that effect. As to the being current with Riteve, not so far fetched. We’ve all seen clunkers on the roads with a current sticker.

But that is not my point here, it has to do with the total lack of self-awareness and lack of respect by drivers on our roads, be it on the Ruta or an Autopista.

There are just too many drivers who stay in the left lane no matter of what the minimum or maximum speed is. They simply refuse to move to the right. This can be on the Ruta 27, on the Autopista General Cañas, or on the 50 kilometers of new road between Cañas and Liberia and everywhere else across the country’s road network.

But why?

Do those drivers feel they are going the speed limit or driving what THEY think is appropriate or comfortable for THEM. They can just relax in the left lane, it doesn’t matter that they are causing traffic to back up, hey YOU can always go around them.

These are selfish, ignorant drivers.

If they weren’t selfish or ignorant, like if they were experiencing an issue with their vehicle, for example, they would let the other drivers know, like using the emergency flashers or the more common, the wave through.

I call them “rocas de carretera”. They are doing what they want to do, with no thought or care for anyone else on the road. These are drivers that I suspect don’t use their mirrors. Because they don’t care what is behind them. It could be a line of cars. It could be an ambulance with lights and siren. They just don’t care.

Worse are the ‘rocas’ in the night, those selfish, ignorant drivers that in addition to driving slow in the left lane, also refuse to turn on their lights so as not ro wear down the battery. This is real. A real lightbulb of knowledge I learned about drivers in Costa Rica when I first arrived in the country many, many moons ago.

These rocas usually have clean driving records. Few if any have ever been in a collission. But I am sure they have been the cause of more than one. Some with deadly consequences.

Driving Costa Rica is challenging, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t expect signs to be posted or easy to see
  • Always look around you
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Don’t assume the logical
  • Watch out for the ‘rocas’

Feel free to use the comments section below or post to our official Facebook page about your experience with the ‘rocas’.