San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Traffic Law Has Little Impact on Highway Deaths

Despite high traffic fines meant to deter poor driving, the number of roadway deaths is at the same level as last year.

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) is reporting 218 deaths during the first nine months of this year, compared to 223 during the same time last year. The majority (57) were the result of speeding. Another 45 were killed in pedestrian accidents, 23 in lane violations and 20 as a result of intoxication.

In March, a new traffic law went into effect that aimed to curtail the number of accidents and make the country’s road system safer. Violators of the new law would get a $571 fine if they drove at speeds greater than 120 kilometers per hour, a $428 ticket if they ignored traffic signals and $428 if they failed to yield to pedestrians. 

“A different story is that of pedestrians, who don’t think the traffic law applies to them,” read a press release from the ministry. “Their behavior shows great irresponsibility. So far this year, 45 people have died by their own negligence, which is the third year in a row that it’s been the second leading cause of death.”

The number of highway deaths averages 24 a month. During the last five years, 2008 was the year with the highest number of deaths, with 259, while 2005 was the lowest, with 202 deaths reported.

The ministry said the numbers would be lower “if those behind the wheel respected the traffic law.”

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