San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Traffic Police warn of increase in motorcycle deaths

According to the Traffic Police, 53 motorcyclists died in traffic accidents in Costa Rica during the first five months of 2014, an increase of 19 deaths – or 56 percent – over the same period last year.

New Traffic Police Director Mario Calderón Cornejo said motorcycle safety would be a priority for his agency in coming months, and he urged bikers to take more precautions.

“We repeteadly see at every accident scene how victims often were driving without a helmet and died from fatal head trauma. We also have seen several cases where more than two people  were traveling on a motorcycle,” Calderón said.

From January to May, Traffic Police issued 1,500 tickets to motorcycle drivers mostly for not wearing a helmet, running red lights and participating in drag races. During surveillance operations at sites frequently used for these illegal races, officers seized 232 motorcycles.

Calderón said it is common for motorcyclists to disregard Costa Rica’s Traffic Law by transporting more than one passenger, failing to use headlights during the day, failing to use reflective vests and transporting children under 5.

Costa Rica’s top traffic cop called on bikers who use their motorcycle for work, such as messengers and delivery drivers, to not overload them with large packages that might block visibility or whose weight can destabilize balance.

Passing on the right, driving on sidewalks, crossing in front of moving vehicles, switching lanes and running red lights are among the frequent reckless behavior that causes accidents, Calderón said.

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I am surprised it is not much higher. When you admit that motorcyclists disobey the law as a norm, what you are saying is that law enforcement has no interest in actually enforcing the laws. I doubt seriously that motorcyclists actually know what the laws are.

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Ken Morris

A couple points:

One is that some dangerous riding, chiefly riding between traffic lanes, isn’t even against the law.

The other is that I too puzzle over the lack of enforcement of traffic laws–for cars as well as motorcycles. I have watched people run red lights and the like right in front of the cops, who do nothing. My inference is that only traffic cops enforce traffic laws, so unless there happens to be a specifically authorized traffic cop, even a police presence doesn’t increase compliance.

More broadly, I seriously wonder why the police (maybe from the traffic division) don’t write more tickets. I could keep a squad busy full time writing tickets on any number of my neighborhood streets, and the income from the tickets would actually be profitable. Of course, the long range goal wouldn’t be to make money by writing tickets, but rather to get safer drivers. Still, I marvel that it is never done. Lethal driving is definitely tolerated by the authorities, and I don’t know why.

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