Honduras Capital Uses Mimes to Increase Safety on Roads


An SUV, a motorcycle, and a cargo truck trying to cross an intersection at the same time without stopping. A typical day on the roads of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, where police haven't been able to put an end to this vehicular nightmare.

Could humor be the answer?

A few young people wearing make-up, costumes, and funny hats think they can make a difference.

"It's like a jungle out here so this is good for pedestrians because we teach them to follow the rules and we teach drivers to respect pedestrians," said mime Joaquin Palma.

The project is called "Mimes for Traffic Education" and authorities say it's no laughing matter. The mimes use an in-your-face approach in an effort to shame both drivers and pedestrians into complying with traffic rules.

"We teach by amusing people," said Leonardo Montes de Oca, Honduran Mimes School teacher. "In Honduras, there's no respect for pedestrians, but pedestrians make mistakes too. Some think that it's only drivers who don't follow the rules, but we have to educate both pedestrians and drivers."

But working at intersections in Tegucigalpa is not a joke, even for these mimes who sometimes have to run for their lives. The reality is that they have no authority and it is up to drivers and pedestrians to pay attention or ignore them completely, which is often the case.

"Drivers don't respect pedestrian walkways, and that's why we have so many accidents," said Honduran National Traffic Supervisor, Carlos Mejia. "On the other hand, we also have the problem of jaywalking or failure to use pedestrian bridges."

The mimes project is a funny answer to a very serious problem in the Central American capital. It's estimated that more than 600 people die each year in Tegucigalpa in traffic accidents, and ultimately the project's goal is to save lives by creating a culture of respect for the rules of the road.

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