Friday, December 12

New Traffic Laws in Costa Rica

I don't know about the rest of the country but around here, they have been busy marking parking for taxis, painting double lines in the middle of the roads, painting directional arrows and the like EVERYWHERE! I knew something was going on when I saw them pouring a long sidewalk by the school on the main highway. They are busy everywhere, putting in new huge drainage pipes - just where is the money coming from???? (China?)

A friend stopped by and was telling me all about the new fines if you are caught without a seatbelt ($350), run a red light ($450), pass a car on a double line (big bucks), get caught driving and drinking (BIG FINE and/or JAIL). I couldn't believe it. If you've lived here, you know traffic laws are barely enforced. In fact, I've been in a taxi when he passed a police on a double line. Nothing happened. I was doubly amazed that the fines were set so high because the average Costarrican makes this amount in a MONTH. We have to pay Marchamo (car tax) at the end of the year and for most, this is a struggle (lots of cars are up for sale this time of the year because they are unable to pay the tax). If the tickets are not paid, they cannot get their Marchamo sticker and the car is worthless on the road (BIGGER tickets if caught, scratch that, they TAKE YOUR CAR if you don't have that sticker on the front windshield at the beginning of the year. Yep, Transito (traffic police) sit at points with the tow truck and check EVERYONE).

I'm puzzled about the new fines that are going to be "imposed". For "whom" are they intended? I checked the resource blog for CR info "The Real Costa Rica" and it's all there. Check it out and BUCKLE UP! or pay up! The link to The Real Costa Rica is two years old (I forgot to check) but here is what the Tico Times recently published regarding the new laws:
Thanks Mike at for doing the research and catching the date on that 2 year old blog post I blogged.
NO MORE ZIGZAGGING to avoid potholes, it's considered "reckless driving"...

Teri Tunes - Willie's playing - "On the Road Again"


wolfie_cr said...

[rant begins]

its just another blatant display of the stupidity of our politicians

if they think they can put a First World traffic law in effect here...with Third (or Fifth ?) World roads here..they are very WRONG

its true that we drive like animals but it is also true that if I go to Chicago......and 'trade' their road system for ours.....they TOO will behave like caged animals.....esentially that's how it feels driving in any major 'city' over here

give me 4 lanes each way and space to park ....and things will be very different

also the laws about drunk driving are fine BUT there are parts of circunvalation that are marked at 40 KPH ....well ....sure enough, everyone goes at 60 or more....I would like to see the major traffic jam if everyone is going to follow the marked limits!

how is it that if I commit any of those infractions I get fined 200k colones and yet if I STEAL from you /your house something worth....100k colones...I walk away FREE?

The law doesnt affect me at all (Except that now I will not even set my cellphone on silent when it rings while I drive so that it doesnt keep ringing for a full minute)

I don't want encouters with the 'law' and I basically obey it in all ways......BUT I want to see this law ENFORCED otherwise why bother??

they better start building jails SOON!

and I could go on and on but its only 7 AM, imagine me having a beer and talking about this ;)

TICA MACHA said...

A friend called and told me the link I provided was 2 years old. Oh well, another stupid macha trick but it takes that long for things to happen here. Two years later, they are going to try and enforce these new laws. Check out the Tico Times for clarity on the specifics. I would like to see the faces on the tourist that get stopped for a infraction. Surely, they will be in disbelief and will not return. Maybe that's the grand plan, Go home Gringos.
Thanks for your comments Wolfie, you speak for many of us that has learned to accept the way things are and go just go with it. I laugh when I see a speed limit sign on a road that if you actually DID do that speed, it would beat your car to hell. Costa Rica does has a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Definately it isn't, for the reasons mentioned and many more, not a well framed new traffic law.It doesn't do it for us! A rampant increase in bribery-"mordidas"- seems to be the natural course for things to come. Time will tell, but it is very unlikely that it will work in the way it was expected when created. Traffic deaths indeed are tragic-no pun intended- but its true solution depends on an organic integrated approach that requires time, investment of capital and education and determination of the majority of the people.

TICA MACHA said...

We have to start somewhere. Too many fatal accidents that could be avoided. At least the new laws will maybe put the fear into some where they will not risk driving while drunk.
As far as the bribes, no it's not correct but maybe with the increase, more people will want to be police. We need more people on the force.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Tica Macha.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I'm late commenting, but I'm trying to catch up...
This is insane. OK, so excessive speed and drunk driving are one thing...but there is now a fine for taxi drivers insulting their passengers? For throwing a marlboro in the street? But still it's just a slap on the wrist for ROBBERY? So CR now has jail space for traffic law violators, but not for criminals?

TICA MACHA said...

I was at Dan's restaurant and we all witnessed the police stop two known drug dealers, search them, cuff them and put them in the back of their truck for .... jail?
Everyone clapped as they drove away.
I think we have some San Jose police here for the holiday. They don't play.