Driving in Costa Rica is different
by Ivo Henfling
To my opinion the reason is that the Latin-American mindset when driving is different and does not plan ahead nor do they have the discipline you have grown up with. Costa Rica has not had an army since 1948 and for this reason Ticos are not very disciplined.
Some might think I’m trying to ridicule the driving habits of the Ticos, I am not.
Plenty of people get killed on the Costarican roads like they do in other countries but if you follow up on the next 14 habits Ticos have when they drive, you will adjust much better to your new life in Costa Rica and feel safer on the roads here.
1. Tico drivers always drive of the left lane instead of the right lane. No matter how many lanes there are, they will still drive on the left lane. Don’t try to honk or flash your lights it won’t help. One reason is that they don’t know that the left is the “fast lane”, a lane is a lane. The second reason is that potholes are always in the right lane as that is where the rainwater goes to.
2. Nine out of ten drivers do not use their turn signals before they make a turn. Don’t count on them NOT making the turn if they don’t use their turn signal. They also might have their signal turned on and decide not to turn.
3. They do not change lanes well ahead before making a turn as most of you do. They might make a sudden turn just before the intersection.
4. They might return to the off ramp in reverse when they miss a turn on the free-way.
5. On Sundays, they skip red traffic light easily, because it is Sunday.
6. They might swing around a pothole when they see one, even if they have to invade your lane to do so. Sorry, you should have seen their pothole.
7. It is allowed to create several lines of cars in just one lane if there is a traffic jam somewhere. If there are two lanes, 5 or 6 lines are allowed, if they fit. If it doesn’t fit, they’ll make it fit.
8. Don’t use the public transport ane some freeways have, you’ll get a ticket. If you have to turn right and to do so you need to use the lane, don’t use it, you’ll get a ticket…….
9. In some places we have a center left turn lane (a lane in the middle that is supposed to be used only for those turning left). Well, this is when suddenly the “fast lane” was invented so don’t think you’ll be alone in this lane.
10. Solid yellow lines mark the center of a road used for two-way traffic. Broken yellow lines indicate that you may pass if the broken line is next to your driving lane. In Costa Rica, drivers will pass the solid yellow line at any time as long as they think they can get away with it. That also means in curves in the road and on bridges.
11. Taxi drivers can do what they want; they are in La La land from the moment they get into their taxi. Most of them are red, so when you see one, keep your distance.
12. Talking on a cell phone and even texting while going 20 miles an hour on the left lane is allowed, even though the law doesn’t allow for it.
13. Toll roads have three times as many toll booths as lanes going in and out. Be careful before and after paying, everyone will want the same lane as you do.
14. Road demarcation doesn’t mean anything in Costa Rica and is not respected by anyone.
Getting used to driving in your new home country as well as many other habits you need to adjust to is necessary to make Costa Rica your paradise and not your hell.
Don’t forget, YOU need to adjust to THEM and not the other way around.
If you do need Costa Rica ambulance services, a public or a private hospital in Costa Rica because you ended up in a traffic accident, you’ll be in good hands. You should also make sure you and your car are well insured.
If you know of any other habits that I have missed, Feel free to leave your comments on this blog.
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