Soon, “jugársela” (beating the system) on the road such with actions as not stopping for a red light, circulating in the restricted area or use the exclusive bus lanes will land you with a traffic ticket thanks to a series of traffic cams that will be operational before the end of the year.
The monitoring of roads will no longer be the exclusive domain of the traffic police, but also a comprehensive analytical system includes cameras and radars to combat traffic violations.
It consists of an intelligent program that will start with 40 cameras this year and reach 100 within a year after.
The equipment will be placed in strategic locations, especially on the roads with the high traffic volumes and the need for more controls.
For example, the Circunvalación is one of the points, as it the limit for the vehicular restriction program of San Jose on the west, south and east side. It is also a road with high incidents of vandalism, in particular the area of the Hatillos.
The traffic ticket and fines will be issued in real-time to the cell phone either by email or text message. Drivers will still have the opportunity to appeal the ticket within 10 days.
The Consejo de Seguridad Vial (Cosevi), a division of the Ministry Transport (MOPT), says the road control program seeks two main purposes: accident prevention and improving road traffic, although it can also be of big assistance in emergencies.
The Cosevi has invested US$55 million dollars in the technology, which includes analytical software that will integrate cameras and radars that will process all the information.
The contract for the program went to the state-run institutions, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) and Radiográfica Costarricenseo (Racsa), working together with the Swedish company Sensys Gatso Group, through its American subsidiary Sensys Gatso USA, a leading provider of solutions in traffic management and the Costa Rican company, Lanprosa S.A.
This is the second time that a plan to regulate traffic through a camera system is launched, after the first attempt in 2011, which failed due to constitutional issues, primarily in the way traffic tickets were issued.
The failure resulted in a change in the law in 2012, that did away for the requirement that all traffic tickets had to be issued to the offending driver personally by a traffic official. The change also required drivers to register their email and or cell phone number to receive notifications.
At the time, thousands of drivers were picked off up by the traffic speed cameras. The Cosevi published in the local newspapers, as a notification, the names of the plate numbers. Several thousand drivers paid their fines promptly before the program was abandoned and the cameras went dark.
Today, although the technology-based road surveillance project is supported by several sectors, the notification system is still worrying for many.
Silvia Bolaños, former director of the Cosevi and now the Executive director National Chamber of Transporters, said “Obviously, from the point of view of road safety and road control, the project is essential since it is more than evident that road cameras reduce accidents and change the behavior of drivers. The concern is with the issue of notification of sanctions, especially in business sectors that manage fleets and have a high turnover (of drivers).”
Edwin Herrera, the current director of the Cosevi, said: “With the program, we will improve the road safety of users…it will allow us to have real data that we don’t have today because some people disrespect the traffic regulations.”
How will it work?
The Centro de Movilidad Segura e Inteligente (Safe and Intelligent Mobility Center) is an analytical system that goes beyond cameras and radars. Although its central axis is road control, it contributes to safety and emergency work.
- The system will process the photos of the license plates using cameras installed on roads
- The targets are those vehicles that are poorly parked or that circulate on restricted days or prohibited lanes
- With radar support, it will also record photos of the plates of those who commit speeding violations
- Inspectors will be able to track through mobile devices such as tablets and cell phones
- Alert other entities in case of an emergency such as 911 and the Red Cross
- Violators will be notified in real-time to their emails or by text message
- Drivers who are not registered (their email or phone) in the Cosevi will be notified when they are going to pay the Marchamo
To the last point, the concern is lending your vehicle or fleet operations of companies, including rental cars. Registering a notification will permit the lender of the car or fleet operator to know in real-time of the offence and the cost.
The fines that will be issued by the traffic cams range from ¢23,415 for violating the vehicular restrictions of San Jose to ¢326,701 for passing on curves, street racing, disrespecting a red light, driving on the exclusive bus lanes. And course speeding.
For now, there is no indication if points are applied (to traffic violations with points, ie speeding) given that the cameras will be picking off vehicle plates and not the driver. For example, you lend your car to a friend who is caught speeding by a traffic cam. Who gets the ticket? You, the registered owner of the vehicle.