A PIRATE bus in the hands of a driver with no public service driver training on Saturday, August 9, brought Panama’s highway death total this year to 297,
The next day an accident in Veraguas increased the toll to 298 well on the way to reaching or passing last year’s horrific tally of 440 in a country of fewer than 4 million people.
As a point of reference, Ontario Canada with a population of 13.6 million recorded 295 deaths in 2015, with a decade long drop in fatal accidents.
In the pirate bus incident, a woman passenger was killed and 13 people were injured, eight seriously.
The pirate “busitos” follow the tradition of the diablos rojos, racing each. to be first at the gathering points for passengers waiting to put their lives in the hands of whoever happens to be behind the wheel.
The accident happened at 9:30 p.m. opposite the Princesa de Gales shopping center, on the Transísmica route, towards Las Cumbres when the speeding driver lost control on a rain soaked road, hit a post and spun around before overturning.
A similar incident killed a pirate bus passenger in San Miguelito on May 8.
After an initial flurry of meetings and pronouncements promising control of the pirate, including linking them to the public transit system, nothing practical emerged.
Many of the busitos, like the diablos rojos belong to elected deputies or those close to them.