San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Turn on Your Lights, Say Traffic Police

Transit Police Director Germán Marín said he wants all drivers to turn their lights on at 5 p.m. to help reduce roadway accidents, which reached a four-year high in 2007.

Marín will ask lawmakers to insert this provision in a traffic bill now moving through the Legislative Assembly, according to the daily La Nación. He said the lights will allow pedestrians and cyclists to better see oncoming cars.

Current law requires drivers to turn on their lights from half an hour before dusk to half an hour after dawn. But it does not specify a time.

In a study by the University of Costa Rica (UCR) of 24,000 accidents between 2000 and 2004, researchers found a spike in road deaths between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“The habit of driving without lights until it’s really dark…could be (an) important factor explaining the concentration of accidents during those hours,” the study said.

In its current form, the traffic bill would increase fines for roadway violations, criminalize drunken driving, require road safety education in schools, and crack down on corruption by traffic cops. Passed by a committee in December, the proposal has not yet reached the legislative floor.


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