Why Do So Few Drivers In Costa Rica Understand The On-ramp?


It is still a wonder to me why so few drivers in Costa Rica understand the on-ramp, that short strip of road used to match the speed of traffic on the highway before merging.

I can accept that it could due to the fact about the only highway, if you can call it that, with true on-ramps is the Ruta 27 (San Jose – Caldera), but can’t understand that after more than seven years in existence, too few a driver still has yet to understand the concept.

Ruta 27, the San Jose – Caldera road.

You know what I talking about. We’ve all seen it. They make a sprint onto incoming traffic, as if behind the wheel of a formula 1 race car or equally as dangerous, drive to the end and STOP or slow down, coming close to a full stop, to wait to “yield”, to accelerate into the hole of traffic.


I can only attribute this to many drivers in Costa Rica are most non-thinking, unaware drivers in the world. Perhaps inconsiderate is more appropriate.

It seems that everyone does what they want and results are sometimes fatal.

Add to this the other problem on our roads, the inability of many drivers in Costa Rica to determine speed and distance. This applies to pedestrians as well, as they make the mad dash across the busy General Cañas, with tragic results.

I get beeped a lot as I wait to enter the highway 27 from my street, where the entrance is at a right angle, merging onto coming traffic that, given the road condition, comes barrelling at speeds well over 100 km/h. Me I wait. I wait for safely deducing speed and distance. I have waited minutes, sometimes many of them in the busy days of returning traffic from the coast. Each time I think why didn’t I take the old road, especially in my old Landcruiser where acceleration is not the vehicle’s strong suit.

What did I start writing about? Oh, yeah, on ramps!

On ramps are to merge into traffic, to match the speed of flow through traffic, “a ramp that provides access to the specified part of a road system“.

Merging at a slow speed is infinitely more dangerous than accelerating fast. Hesitating at the slightest bit of uncertainty, indicisive, second-guessing, is another problem.

The result, in many cases, is congestion and jams where there need not be.

An argument I hear often around the discussion table is the badly designed on-ramps and places where there’s a lot of merging traffic because the merge lane is shared with an exit lane in Costa Rica.

Valid points. Even the ‘world class’ designed Ruta 27 has this design flaw. Take the Santa Ana intersection, on the eastbound (Cuidad Colon bound) on-ramp the bus stop is literally part of the on-ramp. In the other direction, the on-ramp from the bridge traffic rolls into the off-ramp exiting to Santa Ana.

My conclusion is that many a driver either don’t care about what is right, they are ignorant or inexperienced or too scared to drive on highways. Weak driver education, highway driving is not part of the driving test.

And what about those plankheads who decide on a two lane highway to use the left lane for the at the speed limit or lower? That’s for another time.