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Motoring life and safety issues III

June 28, 2005

I’ve discussed numerous issues about driving in Finland in previous posts and this entry will be the last of my discussion about driving in Finland. So without further delay…

Finns are guilty of not driving for the conditions, especially during extreme weather. It scares the hell out of me to see people barrelling down the highway doing more than 100 km / hr in a snowstorm. Many people drive like they would in summer conditions. So a word to wise(r) people reading this, watch out for these kinds of drivers on Finnish roads in the winter and stay far away from them!

On another note in March 2004, the worst ever road accident in Finland occurred at Konginkangas in central Finland. In the middle of the night a transport truck hauling paper rolls jack knifed into the path of an oncoming bus full of people heading north to ski. More than half of the passengers were killed, 23 in total and 15 others survived with various injuries. Exceptional conditions were a factor in the accident as the roads in the area were icy and had not been maintained by the Finnish Road Administration. The driver of the truck had tried to correct the jack knifing trailer and had tried to warn the oncoming bus but to no avail… Any number of seconds of delay for either the bus or the truck could have saved the lives of everyone involved. An inquiry followed and many proposed changes have already been made.

Road safety in Finland has been enhanced by two things that you do not see in northern Ontario: moose fences and cameras. There are thousands of kilometres of moose fence lining the roads in Finland, which in effect prevents moose from crossing the highways in high-traffic areas. Every year there are dozens of accidents involving moose and vehicles all over Finland. The building of moose fences in the country has prevented accidents and made the roads a lot safer to drive. In many places you don’t have to keep scanning the road for the next moose that wants to jump in front of your car. Still there are places where you have to keep your eyes peeled, so be aware of that if you ever drive in Finland. "Wait!" you say, "What about reindeer?" I’ll cover reindeer in a future entry, they’re whole ‘nother can or worms.

 Cameras that snap pictures of speeding drivers have been installed all over the country, though I have to say I never noticed any in Lapland… In any case, it is similar to the photo radar system that the provincial government installed (and later rolled back) in southern Ontario in the 1990’s. The thing here is that there are no howls of protests when cameras are installed, Finns accept it and keep on driving!… One time on a trip up to Kuopio I took the time to count the number of cameras between Mikkeli and the "economy" (double-laned) highway south of Kuopio. So from south to north there are 17 cameras and from north to south there are 18 cameras (that’s about 100km or so…). A recent report in the media claimed that new cameras would be installed on the E5 highway from Mikkeli to Lahti. So you have been warned, keep that lead foot in check!

One Comment leave one →
  1. wayne permalink
    December 3, 2005 4:47 pm

    we have an estmated 140,000 moose on the island of newfoundland and we need moose fencing along our highways.unfortunenately,we have very little.

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