Monday, February 25, 2008

Car accident confusion

Last night there was a car accident on the hill outside our house. This happens to be the third one since we moved in and all have been only fender benders and seem silly. Let me explain.

In Costa Rica when you hit someone’s car, the law states you must leave the cars where they stopped and wait there until the police arrive. This seems logical enough except when you consider the implications.

Each accident near us occurred after dark but quite early in the evening –usually around 7pm. The first accident didn’t cause nearly the commotion as the following two but each consecutive accident literally stopped traffic.

Last months incident probably involved a drunk driver since the car heading west took the blind turn wide and tagged the car heading east going up the hill. Considering the location of the cars after the accident, I was shocked no one else hit the parked cars especially after they turned off their lights! With no street lights nearby, the cars were almost impossible to see until right next to them. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t at least use their flashers. Then about 30 minutes later the police showed up and eventually even they turned off their lights! In the mean time, cars would fly up and down the road notice the accident at the last possible second then slam on their brakes and slowly drive into the ditch past the two cars and continue on their way. I kept thinking how lucky those passing drivers were to be able to use the new concrete ditch to be able to get past the accident. Patrick and I chuckled at the stupidity of the accident victims and the police for not leaving their lights on but all worked out ok in the end.

Last night’s incident took the cake. The cars must not have believed the sign stating the bridge was narrow because neither vehicle appeared to stop to let the other pass (the bridge is only wide enough for a single car and cars headed west are supposed to yield). They hit on the west side of the bridge. After we noticed traffic stopped for 15 minutes, cars began to back up and head back the direction they had come. I’m not sure where they went since our road happens to be the only one I know of that goes east/west for miles. Anyway, an hour later and the police still had not arrived. Patrick noticed a bus parked at the top of the hill and several minutes later huge groups of people were walking down one hill across the bridge and up the other hill presumably to catch another bus on the other side since their bus had no way to continue on its route. Soon I noticed a car passing the accident victims on the north side of the road. I was certain the car would get stuck since the ditch on that side happens to be very deep. Somehow the car completed the pass and more cars followed. Now the lines of cars on both side of the bridge seemed long but at least they figured a way around the vehicles. Another bus came down the hill and I felt compelled to watch even though I had a bad feeling the driver couldn’t make the pass. Moments later the driver put on his flashers and started to back up the hill in the direction he had come. I knew he couldn’t make that pass but backing up the hill didn’t seem like the best idea either. Two hours later, the police finally showed. Immediately the owners of the cars pulled over to the side of the road. Traffic started flowing almost normally again. I’m not sure how long they stayed there since I finally went to bed but I did see and hear a group of men pushing a jeep up the hill as a tow truck flew past with no intention of stopping to help. I don’t know why the police took so long to get here and I never will since there is no communication regarding local news in this country (that I know of anyway).

As far as the law to leave the cars exactly where they are after an accident, it’s not clear how that helps the police. It’s not like I ever see them taking photos or anything. When we were in St. Petersburg, Russia we observed the police measuring skid marks after an accident. Now that makes sense. But here it seems like people do it for no apparent reason. Especially when there is only one government run insurance agency and most drivers don’t even own insurance in the first place!

1 comment:

P & K Ashland said...

wow! No wonder you don't want to drive.