If you hear the roads are bad in Costa Rica, I can assure you it is not an exageration. And if the roads don't make you crazy, the Tico drivers will. I don't know what it is about Tico males, but for the most part they are more passive then North Americans, but put them behind a wheel of a car and all traffic laws become merely a suggestion.
Driving to San Jose from Puerto Viejo exhausts us so much, we have opted for public bus lately. Our car is a clunker and we don't trust it and it seems everytime we drive it on the roads there is a new rattle which means a repair bill is near.
Actually I am very impressed with bus service around Costa Rica for a developing country (no there are no chickens and pigs to ride with). Here is a picture of a local bus at the Puerto Viejo bus stop. They usually will out do any car in the way of speed and are usually on time. One word of advice though... unless you like scary amusement park rides, do not ride in the front seat. Some bus drivers love to play chicken with oncoming cars when passing. The car seems to always yield to bus at the last possible second.
Another great thing about the bus is that you are not protected from life. Roberto met 2 cute young gay guys from Canada on the way from San Jose and they became our first official guests of The Banana Azul. It seems one of their parents bought them a trip to Costa Rica as a Christmas Gift. Now that is the "true spirit".
Even though many of my clients at our beach house rental have been warned about the roads, the majority of them seem to want to rent cars. It will be interesting to see how the new government tackles the road problem (if at all).