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Motoring life and safety issues II

June 20, 2005

I am on a roll here…

Last time I touched on a few driving related things in Finland. I feel this topic warrants a second visit (and maybe even a third) because I have missed out on some other important and current issues related to driving in Finland. I also promised to talk about the ridiculous gas prices in Finland.

If I can pick the two things I hate the most about drivers in Finland they would be that Finns are famous for tailgating and being a pedestrian is a big risk because drivers fail to look and they run a helluva lot of red lights.

Tailgating is likely the biggest reason for accidents and fender benders in Finland (along with excessive speed). A report in a local newspaper called Länsiväylä* awhile back cited tailgating as the biggest cause for accidents in Espoo. I don’t remember the time period, nor do I remember the number; but I do remember that the report mentioned that if people would not have been following so close then these accidents would have been preventable.

Running red lights seems to be a real sport here. Driving as fast as possible through a yellow light is something that Finnish drivers do a lot. I am convinced that if I ever meet an early death it will be as a pedestrian or a cyclist in Finland. So if you are ever walking on the streets of any Finnish town I highly recommend that you look before you cross the street (common sense) and if you are crossing when a car is coming, wait until the car has stopped before you cross the street. It just might save your life!

Young Finnish men top the statistics for accidents and deaths in traffic. Liikenneturva states on their website that more than 100 young people between 15-24 are killed and more than 2500 are injured in traffic accidents every year. In a country such as Finland, that is a pretty high number. Liikenneturva also states:

  • The risk of death is the highest for car drivers 18-19 years old (right after they have received their licence).
  • The risk of death is over two times higher for young men than for young women (not a surprise).
  • The most typical accident type for young drivers is running off the road.
  • One third of road deaths occur in the summer and on weekends and nearly half during night time. Of these accidents, about half involve alcohol.
  • Other very common risk factors in typical accidents are speeding and driving without seat belt.

These are grim facts and the increasing number of deaths among young people is garnering a lot of criticism in the media. Driving behaviour needs to be improved and it all starts with young drivers and the people who teach them. An attitude change is in order too, so maybe young guys need to stop showing off to their friends while driving. To refrain what I said above, it just might save their lives.

I am sure it is like this in countries all over the world and I have been told many times that I haven’t seen the way people drive in, for example, Italy. If I am just about losing my head here, I just might lose it there!

And finally, a little on ridiculous gas prices. I can say that if they ever go above €1,30 per litre I will insist that we park our car and take public transit to work. There is no way we can afford it, especially since it costs almost $100 (CAD) / €60 to fill the tank on our car. When I have talked to my dad he has complained a few times about gas prices at home and then I remind him what we are paying here. It usually sets him straight and he stops complaining. Compared to what we pay in Finland for gas, the prices in northern Ontario are a dream! Gas is more than a third cheaper there than it is here. At the time of this writing gas was €1,23 / L for 98 octane at a station close to my house. Last fall when I visited Lapland we paid €1,28 per litre. Unbelievable!

Frankly, bicycles are whole lot better for you and for the environment.

*West Way is a rough translation

One Comment leave one →
  1. Unknown permalink
    June 24, 2005 12:32 pm

    Gas prices in Toronto are now $1.00/litre and it costs about $45.00 to fill up our Toyota….still cheaper than Europe absolutely. I don’t see the need either to drive a car into downtown Toronto – besides, there’s no place to park! I still think the worst drivers are in Toronto – tailgating, hitting pedestrians, no use of signals, running red lights and basic "asshole-ism"….. i try not to drive if I can walk or take the transit.

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