Authorities in Punta Cana will step up road safety measures ahead of a potentially record-breaking winter season. The announcement comes on the heels of a tragic bus accident that killed five South American tourists on October 6, sending shock waves through the highly popular tourist region. Officials are currently investigating the incident, and the bus driver has been placed in preventive detention.
The new measures were announced this week by Ramon Antonio Ramírez, the mayor of Verón, a municipality in the Punta Cana area. According to the official, a new road safety plan is currently being drafted, and some of the measures have already been announced and will be implemented in the coming weeks. The goal, the mayor says, is to protect the physical integrity of locals, and especially tourists.
Authorities are contemplating an array of new decisions in the long run, but visitors can expect at least some to take effect in the short-term future. One such measure will see new traffic lights installed across many highly-transited areas, including the Macao and Blue Mall intersection, which is located in the vicinity of Punta Cana International Airport.
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Meanwhile, officials have announced that several busy intersections will be permanently blocked in an attempt to drastically reduce worrying vehicular accident levels. “We have decided to permanently close the Domingo Maíz intersection, where the most recent accident occurred,” the town’s mayor said in a statement. Tour operators will also have to add new GPS tracking systems on their shuttle buses in an attempt to provide authorities with real-time data on speed limit compliance.
Police officers and traffic agents from Digesett, the country’s road safety authority, as well as Politur, a specialized tourism body, will be conducting more roadside safety checks as part of a wider plan to improve transportation conditions. For the time being, the measures are expected to sufficiently improve the safety of the transport industry, which is responsible for moving thousands of visitors around the region daily.
On October 6, a bus carrying 51 South American tourists from Punta Cana to La Romana lost control and crashed into a traffic sign on the highway. Five tourists lost their lives in the incident, and dozens were injured. The bus driver was found to have been driving under the influence, and the suspect has been placed under preventive detention while the case is being investigated. Moreover, the bus was carrying more passengers than was legally permissible, and the vehicle was not inspected properly.
October’s tragic bus accident has been a real wake-up call for the area. Punta Cana, by far the most visited tourist hotspot in the Dominican Republic, continues to attract millions of tourists, but its reputation could take a massive hit if persistent issues concerning road conditions aren’t addressed.
The accident, in which several foreign tourists lost their lives, has attracted significant media attention, highlighting the precarious conditions under which many buses operate.
Tourist buses, as well as private shuttle transport, play a huge role in the local tourism industry. Aside from its stunning beaches, Punta Cana is home to a variety of natural and manmade attractions that tourists frequent. Many of them, such as the popular Scape Park nature area, rely on buses to transport visitors on tours.
A reform of traffic safety rules could have a huge impact on the busy winter travel season. Arrival numbers are expected to skyrocket over the following months as North Americans head south in search of warmer temperatures.
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