The Planning Department of the Judiciary in Costa Rica has shown that in a given year, approximately two people die every day in road accidents, with Fridays, weekends, and holiday months being particularly dangerous. In 2019, for instance, some 792 died on the road, with most victims being in the 20-34 age group. These figures have remained fairly constant since 2015. In order to obtain these statistics, the Judiciary relied on data obtained from a variety of sources—including the Judicial Morgue, hospital data, and data obtained at accident sites. The report differs from previous ones (such as that provided by the Road Safety Council) in that previous efforts focused only on deaths that occurred on the road. The newer report, on the other hand, took into account the deaths that occurred subsequently in hospitals.
Ways to Tackle the Problem of Road Accidents
The statistics show that one important way for the government to tackle the high amount of road deaths is via stricter fines for traffic violations. For instance, in 2019, the number of deaths actually decreased compared to previous years because it was in this year that fine amounts were raised. Moreover, in 2018, the Public Ministry announced that those driving recklessly would be arrested. Private lawsuits for DUIs and other forms of reckless driving are also key when it comes to convincing people to take road safety more seriously. Not all accidents, after all, involve wrongful death. Many cause injuries that interfere with the victim’s health and wellbeing—including whiplash, back injuries, and spinal stenosis (a painful condition affecting the neck and lower spine that is often caused by car crashes). A spinal stenosis settlement can be costly, as can any other road injury capable of interfering with a person’s ability to make a living.
Road Safety Awareness
The number of accidents can also be reduced by increasing driver awareness. Drivers should take extra care during weekends and festivities since it is known that driving during these times can significantly increase their risk of an accident. They should additionally be encouraged to invest in cars with safety features such as adaptive lights, automatic braking, blind-spot detectors, lane change assist, and more. Finally, they should take extra care near pedestrian crossings and in built-up areas, slowing down as soon as they notice a pedestrian lane. Sometimes, pedestrians can seem to “appear suddenly” on such a lane because a car driving in the other direction has covered them. As reported by the Costa Rica guide, Walk on the Wild Side, one-third of all road fatalities are suffered by pedestrians.
Despite efforts made to enhance road safety, the number of road accidents in Costa Rica has room for improvement. In addition to imposing stricter fines, authorities should promote road safety awareness, encouraging drivers to invest in their own safety. They should also tighten campaigns even further from Friday to Sunday and during traditional holidays such as Christmas and Semana Santa.