TICO BULL – What is more important, keeping the flow of traffic or the accident report? This is not a trick question. The common sense answer if clear, but, in Costa Rica common sense is not on the agenda.
“He knows nothing…” began the conversation between the two traffic officials “Transitos” on the scene of a minor fender bender at the intersection of Avenida 1 and Calle 22, this is the road that leads west from the Coca Cola west to La Sabana.
Two vehicles, a SUV and a motorcycle has touched other, the motorcycle went down. The SUV suffered some scratches.
Stumbling on the situation, I questioned one of the Transito why they weren’t moving the vehicles, the SUV right smack in the middle of the intersection. Couldn’t they see the row buses having to maneuver around the SUV, and traffic backing up on this important westbound route?
The official’s comment that I knew nothing was in direct reference to my being a foreigner and not knowing the ways of Costa Rica.
Yes, I know that the law as it stands requires that the vehicles not be moved until the traffic police is on the scene. They were, yet nothing was being moved. not until the officials were ready to get their tape measures out, pads and fill out their report.
This is when my confrontation began, when I questioned the common sense of the situation and that the officials were more concerned with their report that the flow of traffic on a busy Friday morning.
And that is what they did, about 15 minutes of measuring, writing, some more measuring and more writing. Meanwhile the traffic continued to back up.
In our short conversation, once the officials saw that I knew a little more than they thought, they explained how they are caught between the law, the duty to make a full and proper report and common sense.
Maybe its time to change the law.
And that is exactly what several Transitos are doing. In a report by Telenoticias this morning, they ran a video of a Transito official who, out of his own pocket, installed a video cam on his unit to record pulling over a driver and the case of the report, a chase through the streets of San José when a driver failed to pull over.
The camera is similar in style that used by police in the U.S. and Canada. The difference, the camera is not official police equipment, it was purchased and being installed at out of pocket expense by the official.
The videos are not admissible in court, they are being uploaded to the Facebook page, Policías de Costa Rica. The official is hoping to effect a change.
Back to my accident scene, once the officers filled out their reports, the tape measures put away, traffic began flowing again, all was back to normal.