Up to Wednesday, August 22, 32 people lost their lives in traffic accidents, more than one death per day this month. And so far this year, the number of fatalities exceeds 288 people, in on third of the cases, the deceased were between 10 and 40 years old.
These numbers do not include deaths at the scene and not those in transit to or in hospital.
The figures are alarming to Transport authorities, in particular the director of the Policia de Transito (Traffic Polic), German Marin, who considers drivers are taking lightly the responsibility behind the wheel.
According to Marín, the weekend August 18 and 19, in a police operation that took place in different parts of the country, transitos (traffic officials) managed to surprise 256 unlicensed drivers and another 25 driving while intoxicated. All facing criminal charges. Marin detailed that a total of 1,500 ‘partes’ (traffic tickets) were issued in the two days alone.
For Marín, someone behind the wheel, including motorcyclists, without a license is just one of those irresponsible decisions.
“There is a part of this that worries us, it can be due to a phenomenon of the driver, many drive uninhibited, make a decision without any logic (…), they see the license as a procedure and that is already a terrible decision, just as driving without a belt or on a motorcycle without a helmet,” he explained.
The police chief regrets this mentality, seeing the obtaining of a drivers license as a simple procedure, a situation that is on the increase, and many not taking into account the knowledge acquired during the ‘process’, a knowledge that can make a difference when reacting to different situations that occur on the road.
Marin also spoke about the non-sensical decisions made by drivers, too often resulting in fatalities, like overtaking, exceeding speed limits, disrespecting traffic signals without any explanation. “They see a stop sign and instead of slowing down the accelerate, they advance in the opposite lane knowing that another vehicle is coming head-on,” explained Marin.
The director described that mental state as an intangible factor, which adds to the already known causes, such as speeding and driving while intoxicated.
“What is not clear is how a driver knowing is forbidden to overtake on a double line, knows
that another car is coming and in spite of everything does not care, as they say to themselves ‘let happen whatever has to happen,’ like the brain connecting responsibility is disconnected and simply make a decision, in many cases involving innocent people,” he added.
Worrisome for transitos is the number of fatalities involving motorcyclists. According to the date, 4 out of 10 victims of fatal accidents are motorcyclists.
So far this year, Transito has seized some 11,500 motorcycles, in many cases not due to the condition of the motorcycle but to the condition of its driver.
According to Marín, three months ago (when he returned to the directorship of the police body) they intensified speed control operations, alcohol abuse and other possible infractions.
Evening operations, something that seldom occurred, returned and in coordination the local municipal traffic police.
For some years, the traffic police was staffed to the minimum at night, basically to respond to accidents and other emergencies.
The morning shift at the Policia de Transito begins at 7:00 am. However, a change is underway, as Marin explains it, “This weekend we implemented a new modality that is to go to work at dawn, with the highest concentration on weekends.
According to Marin, the objective is to intercept the drivers coming out of bars, parties, etc.
Another action they are betting on is re-education of drivers through the programs implemented by the Road Safety Council (Cosevi) for those who, after committing sanctions, lose all points of their license.
Supporting the efforts of the Transito are campaigns by the national insurer, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) in order to sensitize and promote safe driving.
Marin added that the Traffic Police expects to have 400 officers in the short term, and with the hope for the approval of a bill that channels traffic fines money to reach the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT), and thus be able to be used in hiring more officials.
Source (in Spanish): La Nacion