San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Public Transportation

Lawmaker proposes suspending permits of motorists who crash into trains

Legislator Rafael Ortiz Fábrega submitted a draft bill aimed at sanctioning motorists who damage trains with the suspension of their drivers’ licenses for a full year.

The Christian Social Unity Party lawmaker proposed an amendment to the Traffic Law that would be applied to drivers who disregard traffic signs and crash into train or damage railway infrastructure.

Under the proposed legislation, such drivers would lose all 12 points from their driving permits, a sanction that results in an immediate 12-month suspension. The draft bill also proposes setting two new fines. The first would total ₡189,000 (about $330) fine, along with a 4-point sanction, for motorists who destroy or damage signals or any part of a railroad.

A second fine of ₡94,000 ($165) would penalize motorists who obstruct a rail line.

According to current legislation, when a driver refuses to take responsibility for crashing intn a train, the Costa Rican Railroad Institute (INCOFER) must take the case before a Traffic Court and file a claim for damage. Solís said his proposal seeks to encourage drivers to be more cautious and take responsibility for their actions.

“Crashing into a train represents problems for thousands of Costa Ricans who end up stranded for hours at traffic jams. We must address that,” Ortiz said in a news release.

He also noted that its necessary to curb the country’s heavy traffic situation, which “is damaging the quality of life of many Costa Ricans.”

Ongoing problem

INCOFER data state that between 2013 and 2016 there were 286 crashes into trains; 120 of them ocurred last year. The number so far this year is of 25.

Accidents involving trains last year resulted in five deaths, and 24 pedestrians were hit by trains.

Solís said that in addition to changes to the Traffic Law, he expects public agencies to add more signals and improve visibility at all rail intersections.

INCOFER spokeswoman María Arias said in a written response that the railway institute supports any initiative to curb the ongoing problem of cars hitting trains.

“We support any proposal that aims to improve drivers’ respect for rail intersections,” she said.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Mark Kahle

So the answers are… MORE government and more cost regardless of the direction taken. How about we DON’T fine the people to death but simply take their license for about five years. That way members of their family don’t go hungry, they can still get to and from work using the train and buses, they will learn the value of unobstructed public transportation.

Let’s not get all crazy and do things that will make us all pay for the actions of a few idiots.

Then we can take the penalty for all that you wanted and work on street names and addresses … something that would actually bring costs down and make life easier.

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Julio Schiller

Juan Mayer:

It is not a bad idea to have traffic officers close to railway tracks, but actually that will imply more officers to be hired and their payment and so on.

We may just need to educate drivers on respecting the signals and stop when train is coming.

It’s all about that, no increasing the amount of officers.

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Juan Mayer

While I feel that any suggestion for solving this issue is welcome, I’d have a different approach.

It doesn’t help to come up with new laws if nobody enforces them.

Have traffic officers positioned at railroad intersections and fine all driver who don’t respect the stop sign directly afterwards.

Actually not that hard. If you do this for 2 weeks all commuters should be aware of this situation and stop at the crossing.

Another thing which is no news: Eventually install barriers at level crossings.
At least on the crossings with most accidents recorded.

After all it’s the state that has to cover most of the costs of accidents via the (stateowned) INS.
So investing in the railroad safety could save us some deaths plus taxpayer’s money.

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