Keep Calm in Traffic Jams and Live Longer
If you're driving, you have the right-of-way on the avenues provided there is no stop light or stop sign (ALTO). With many taxi cabs and motorcycles zigzagging as they do, it's sound advice to drive defensively. In fact, courses on defensive driving are occasionally offered. Don't take it for granted that everyone will stop at a stop sign even though you have the right-of-way so be ready to put on the brakes at any moment There's plenty of jay-walking so always be on the alert. Some rural roads are narrow so you might have to backup to give the oncoming car a chance to pass by. If at any time you should get sandwiched between two buses, don't panic, continue carefully and calmly. Some of their drivers are experts and don't want to get their buses damaged.
Again citing The Tico Times, its writer Mitzi Stark (with some additions of Jörn Malek) was very explicit when she wrote: "When you're driving in Costa Rica, you have to keep your eyes on the car ahead of you, the car behind you, the motorcycle sneaking up alongside, dashing pedestrians crossing three lane higways, dogs, holes, cows, horses, garbage trucks, public buses, and broken down cars blocking traffic, and worst of all thousands of drivers with absolutely or almost no driving education some even without drivers-licence, but with the idea that they drive almost as good as Michael Schumacher." I'll add more, such as having to put up with drivers honking behind you, and others giving you a dirty look if you drive too slowly. On some of the street corners you're apt to have a panhandler knock on your window. By paying no attention to him, he'll very likely go away quietly. In Costa Rica, therefore, the advice to follow when driving is to have patience, not to worry and certainly not to panic. Eventually, you'll get to your destination safe and sound.
As a Costa Rican, I recognize that the automotive traffic is a serious and pervasive problem. As crazy as it may seem, thousands of other Ticos themselves also consider it to be the most serious problem in the country. Traffic laws, if they are rational, are generally not enforced. They are abused in every conceivable way constantly. Traffic police are not enforcing the most basic of common traffic behaviour. Drivers are not educated. Every conceivable inconsiderate driving manoeuvre is executed constantly. One expatriate retiree went so far as to say rightly so that "the pedestrian is abused and attacked like it is the blood sport of the country." And I would say that it's comparable to the Roman slaves being tossed to the lions in the Coliseum. Currently, Costa Rica has more than 700,000 vehicles travelling the highways with several thousands more being imported monthly while practically no new roads have been built in recent years.