Fatal Semi-truck Accident Prompts Calls for Reform

January 19, 2007

After a family of four died Saturday when a semi-truck crumpled their Hyundai in a highway pile-up, transport officials are calling for tougher traffic laws for drivers.

The driver of the semi-truck, 21-year-old José Pablo Vargas, had an expired driver’s license, and had been cited at least 27 times for speeding and other violations. The Guápiles Criminal Court in the Caribbean-slope town of the same name has banned Vargas, who faces four charges of manslaughter, from leaving the country, and revoked his license for a year, according to a statement from the Judicial Branch.

After the accident, which occurred on the

Braulio Carrillo Highway

that runs between San José and the Caribbean port city of Limón, Vice-Minister of Public Works and Transport Viviana Martín told the daily La Nación the ministry is working on a decree to toughen requirements for truck driver licenses, and require drivers to have at least five years of experience.

Under the current law, anyone over 18 can get a license to drive a truck, no experience required.

Authorities are also considering reducing the speed limit for trucks to 70 kilometers per hour, the daily reported.

Martín said the decree should be signed along with a Transit Law reform bill presented to Congress in November of last year. The reform is part of a five-year, multisector plan announced earlier in the year to infuse traffic safety education into school curriculum, beef up highway security, increase fines for speeding and drunk driving, and improve the nation’s unmarked, pothole-riddled roads and highways (TT, Aug. 25, 2006).

 

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