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We have speed bumps in Costa Rica, lots of them. And often won’t even see them until you hit them at full speed.
In Spanish, they call them “muertos”. The translation of un muerto is a dead person, but it is also a speed bump. I know, it’s a strange name for a speed bump. But originally, they were called “policía muerto,” a dead policeman. Now the name makes sense, doesn’t it?
The formal name of a speed bump in Spanish is reductor de velocidad.
The reason I am writing a blog about speed bumps in Costa Rica is that they are everywhere. They are mostly in places where you do not expect them to be. At one time, they were painted yellow. But the rains have washed the yellow paint off.
These muertos are not only bad for your shock absorbers. Braking for a muerto at the last moment is also not a good idea. Most drivers don’t keep the regulated distance. So you might get hit when braking too fast by someone texting his spouse while driving.
I don’t know if it is worse to get new shock absorbers or getting hit by the car behind you.
There is no regulated size for these muertos. Some of them are so high you have to go over them very, very slowly if you don’t want to lose your muffler or a couple of teeth.
In developed countries, you will find these road humps only in residential areas. In Costa Rica, you will find them everywhere, even in the craziest places. Except on the highways (not yet).
A few years ago, the Escazu Municipality installed about 200 muertos throughout the county. They painted them nicely yellow, but the yellow paint has already disappeared. Who knows when they will paint them again?
The question is: Are those speed bumps really necessary? Yes, they are very necessary. Ticos are always running late, so they are always in a hurry when driving. As soon as they get a chance to speed, they will, no matter what the maximum speed is. Just before the Volvo dealer, coming from Multiplaza Escazu, there is a big speed bump with a pole standing on the east side, so the speed bump is in the shadow of that pole all morning. This speed bump is not painted (anymore), so it is impossible to see it. In Heredia, you will find muertos that are totally invisible and look more like a patched-up hole.
XL Speed Bump
You will always find speed bumps by schools, where you are supposed to slow down anyway. In Chinatown, San Jose, the municipality built some incredible “dome-like” policias muertos. A year later, they discovered they were dangerous and decided to get rid of them again. Such wasted money and effort…
At Multiplaza in Escazu, between the highway and the Intercontinental hotel, there was an extra-large speed bump at the bus stop to make it safe for pedestrians. For security reasons, during President Obama’s visit, they took it away, and thank God everybody forgot about it. Poor pedestrians…
Used in Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik