Sunday, December 18, 2011

Two Spaniards, Costa Rican Driver Killed in San Jose

Although this incident occurred on December 10, it is significant enough to cover, given the risk it poses to foreign travelers and the need for this information to be flagged.

I'm sure by now, most of our regular readers are fully aware of my pressing concern for better regulation of commercial drivers that transport tourists and travelers.

In this case, a micro-bus that departed the Hotel Barceló San José Palacio early in the morning for Juan Santamaría Airport fell from a bridge above the Río Segundo, killing the driver and two Spanish tourists. The bus reportedly swerved, broke through the bridge security railing and plunged 35 meters (115 feet) into the riverbed below. Spanish tourists Daniel Canduela and Enrique Castro died on impact.

COMMENT: Having made the trip to the airport over the Río Segundo numerous times, I can only imagine the feeling the Spaniards and the driver had when the bus careened through the bridge railing. And I know that all of us have been in similar situations, going over in our minds the details of our departure, only to never reach home.

According to the daily, La Nación, Costa Rican transit police have concluded that the driver, who worked for the hotel, had just worked an overnight shift and fell asleep at the wheel from fatigue.

Tragically, both good and bad hotels overwork their drivers as a matter of course, in the interest of cutting costs. Needless to say, hotel and tour operators in developing countries need to take a greater responsibility for their guests and passengers. Consequently, all countries are urged to enact labor laws ensuring that commercial drivers do not work to the excess and are alert to fulfill their duties and regulatory agencies should ensure they do.

In a proactive sense, there is nothing wrong with travelers asking drivers how many hours they've worked before a trip is initiated. If it seems apparent that the driver has worked too many hours, taking a reputable, on-call taxi may be a safer course of action.




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