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Call for Dominican Republic to improve road safety

Following the death of baseball player Oscar Taveras on Sunday, 26 October 2014 when driving his Camaro on a Puerto Plata road, The Economist magazine once again highlights the high rate of traffic accidents in the Dominican Republic.

It mentions the 2013 World Health Organization (WHO) report that states the country has the second most dangerous roads in the world, with 41.7 people for every 100,000 residents being killed in traffic accidents each year. Only the tiny Pacific island of Niue, which saw one driving-related death among its population of 1,465, posted a higher rate.

The Economist raises the concern that there are now 151 Dominicans playing in MLB, representing one eighth of the entire league. It says that assuming that this group spends half its time in the DR that means that every year there is a 3% chance that at least one Dominican MLB player will be killed in a crash.

The article states that if any good is to come out of the accident, it would be that the loss of a professional athlete might at last focus the nation’s attention on the scourge of vehicular fatalities. What is critical is to draw the right conclusions about why Dominican roads are so perilous, says The Economist.

The Economist comments that plugging a few potholes is unlikely to solve the problem. It mentions that in the World Economic Forum’s most recent Global Competitiveness Report, Dominican road quality is ranked well above average, ahead of countries like Italy and Norway. The writer makes the point that the highways connecting its big cities to major tourist areas like Punta Cana are widely viewed as modern and in good condition.

Instead, The Economist says that thorny political, economic and cultural factors have conspired against driving in the DR. It lists several other more important reasons:

“The government’s nominal motorcycle-helmet and seat-belt laws apply only to drivers, not passengers, and enforcement of speed limits and drunk-driving rules is lax. The WHO report scored its efforts in those areas just a three and a two out of ten. Less than 10% of tickets issued for vehicular infractions ever get paid, and drive-through liquor stores and alcohol sales at petrol stations expose drivers to constant temptation.”

The Economist calls for a stepping up of regulation and enforcement that would go a long way towards reducing the number of Dominicans who will suffer Oscar Taveras’ fate.

It mentions that a firm government crackdown on dangerous driving can only go so far and calls for a public-education campaign to combat the hallowed roles of drinking and speeding in Dominican culture.

Pinpointing where the root of the problem is, The Economist relates: “In 1976 the merengue singer Johnny Ventura lamented that “mi mujer y el radar no me dejan vacilar” (my woman and the radar won’t let me have fun). It is high time that today’s celebrities – and above all baseball players – started to convey the opposite message.”


Category: DR News |

  1. Samson

    Fill potholes regularly, Stop motorcycles driving on wrong side of road, ignoring traffic lights, ignoring one way streets and teach them the proper way of turning left. No need to get on the other side of the road 30 yards before turn.
    Stop car drivers overtaking when it is not safe and drive at night on dipped headlights. That will make a difference.

    None of this accounts for drunk or drugged drivers.

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Last updated March 24, 2017 at 12:37 AM
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