Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just Another Victim, Kid

The other day, I went with a friend and her son to Multiplaza to have dinner at Te Con Te (they have this ridiculously huge kids' playground inside for the moms to let the smalls loose while they sit having coffee). On the way home, we got to talking about how so many people get killed crossing the streets (mostly highways) here in Costa Rica. (Every heart you see on the roads represents someone who has died there in an accident.) They have recently begun work on the pedestrian bridge from CIMA hospital to the other side of the highway. My friend told me the story of the woman who was killed there a couple of years back, and how the woman WORKED AT CIMA, but since she didn't have insurance, they took her all the way downtown San Jose to San Juan de Dios public hospital, and she, of course, died in transit. This woman's life could have been saved -- I'm still shocked that CIMA would turn her away. There really should be a law against that, here and everywhere. No one should die because of lack of insurance.

But I digress...

As we passed over the hill into Santa Ana way, we noticed some flashing lights on the other side of the highway, and I looked over to see a body of someone who had been hit by a car. Another heart on the highway.

The following night, esposo told me that on his way home, he saw a bicyclist in Piedades who had been hit by a car and killed also.

Why does this keep happening? I can't believe the number of people who are hit by cars on roads in this country. It is disgraceful. Shall we put the blame on drivers, who think they own the roads and drive like no one's business, or on the severe lack of highway patrol officers and their inability to patrol the highways? Or shall we lay the blame on the pedestrians and cyclists (several of which have crossed in front of me at night -- and scared the heck out of me!), who don't pay attention, cross where they have no business doing so, don't wear bright or reflective clothing at night, and drive their bicycles at night without lights? Perhaps all are equally to blame, I don't know. I just think it's terribly sad.

Here in my very small town of Ciudad Colon, we have one heart on the road in front of the church downtown (downtown is all of a good 8 blocks long, I believe). From speaking with my friend, however (who was a nurse back in the States), it seems at least three people (to her knowledge) have been hit by cars and died downtown. Are there just too many hearts to paint on all the roads? Where is the traffic education? Every time I see a parent running across the street with a child in arms or by the hands, I shake my head. Granted, crosswalks are few and far between, but really, should we be running across highways? Cross at a light, for god's sake! Anyone who takes a child's life into their hands by running across a highway should not have children in the first place, sorry, don't think so.

I just read a report put out by the MOPT (Costa Rica's highway patrol), that gives some of the following statistics:
* Last year, 22 people died crossing the roads, the 2nd leading cause of death on the highways (car accidents accounted for 44 highway deaths last year).
* Since 2000, 422 people have died crossing the roads, or 18% of all people who have died on the highways and other roads here.
* In the period of 2000-2006, 141 cyclists have died on the roads, and 8 of them died in the first quarter of 2006 alone.


While visiting the MOPT site, I ran across an area where one can make a complaint against another driver (I wish I had known about this when that @$$hole cab driver almost ran us all into a bus!). I heartily urge everyone who comes up against an idiot driver, bad cab or bus driver, etc. to fill out a report, as I will be doing from now again.

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