New report from the World Health Organization, the Global status report on road safety. And that report shows that as a pedestrian you are in constant danger in our country. Of all the traffic deaths in Panama, 46% are pedestrians, and that is high. Not as high as Peru, with 78%, but still significantly higher than neighbors Costa Rica with 33.1% and Colombia with 33.6%.
So why is that? Well, one reason is impunity. If you're connected in Panama, you just run over people for fun, like that bitch Sherina Latorraca did. Another reason is that Panamanians can't drive, as anyone knows, which is not really a surprise in a country where you just buy your drivers license instead of earning it. Then, it's with the cars as with the shipping registry: any old rust bucket can get a certification, and have a nice trip. Even the police cars in this country fall apart and are driven by gorillas. Also, sidewalks and such are often absent or the sort of death traps you have to avoid altogether.
Last but not least: The authorities don't like pedestrians. They prefer you take a cab, or buy a car from one of their friends. If you want to walk, go to a mall!
A lesson I learned here back in ’94 was to cross the streets where the women and children cross…
be careful with that strategy, there are bitches in BMW’s out there that run down women and children
Panamanians seem to love the roadway……you will see young Panamanians sitting on the side of narrow two lane roads, after dark, with no lighting, and dark clothes……..Also, Panamanians love to walk in the road….not on the very edge of the road….often times with their back to traffic, in the dark, with darker clothing….you will see this in residential areas, and also on some highly traveled highways. They will jaywalk freely in front of oncoming traffic….even fast traffic….they seem void of common sense!
….a country where you can buy a driver’s license?!?!?!? After living in Panama for a while during 89-94, I thought a license was an optional requirement – just like turn signals on automobiles.
There is another side of this story though. Turn the tables and see what happens. If you are a foreigner from a wealthy country and you run over
or have a serious car accident with a Panamanian you will end up in jail lickety-split, in an attempt to force a huge cash settlement out of you. Was it your fault.?..hell no. But that has no bearing on anything. When you pay your bail, if you can get that option, you will find yourself being forbidden from leaving the country. At which point you will bribe the border authorities and will escape. This is not ficion, either. It happened to an elderly English couple in David who hit a Panamanian driver driving at night with no lights.
I had an incident in ’91 similar to what you describe. It was with a Taxi driver (a large contributor to the “deadly pedestrian” designation of the country), who let out passengers in the middle of Avenida Cuba (If recall correctly). I passed on the right side, since the occupants were exiting on the left right of the cab at the double yellow line – real safe now. As soon as I approached the cab, the bastardo makes a hard right turn and bashes my car. The SOB had the nerve to “attempt” to sue me, but thanks to the Judge at the traffic court, they found this goon taxi driver at fault, and kept his license. I got mine back and was found not to be at fault. However, there was one more trick up the sleeve of the Judge. I was told to go to a place called the Alcadia (sp?), and have the case heard there. No paperwork, or court order wtih a date, or anything, just go there (where ever “there is supposed to be). I got back to the office on Albrook feeling victorious, but a little confused, and thats when my co-worker (Panamena) told me that this order from the judge was a last ditch attempt to appease the taxi driver and that the traffic court in this Alcadia place was in a horrible area known for crime. As long as I had my license back, and the appropriate paperwork, I didn’t need to worry about attending any other traffic court – and I didn’t go to jail. Whew! I just hope that ex-pats living there now and attempting to drive don’t experience any accidents (although its inveitable) with any taxista, or an autobus! Que horror!