In a hurry to die and tired of life?

Publication date 2.2.2024 14.11
News item

Finnish drivers drive faster than average, when tired and hold a mobile phone when driving.

Assistant Police Commissioner Pasi Rissanen and Analyst Mika Sutela write in their blog that an extensive international ESRA (E-Survey of Road Users' Attitudes) survey does not paint a positive picture of Finns' attitudes towards their own and other people's safety in traffic.

Three out of four Finnish drivers said they had speeded at least once. This is well above the average for the countries participating in the ESRA survey. The driving speed in the prevailing conditions is also reported to have been too high more often than average In addition to speed, the weaknesses of Finnish drivers include mobile phones and fatigue. Nearly half (46%) of Finnish drivers had talked on their mobile phone while holding it when driving in the previous 30 days before responding to the survey. A tired driver behind the wheel pushes on regardless, despite insufficient functional capacity. During the previous month preceding their response, nearly one in three Finns said that they had been so tired when driving that they had found it hard to keep their eyes open.

The survey indicates that driving when tired seems to be quite common, and the question arises as to whether people even generally regard it as unacceptable, whether they know that it is prohibited by law and whether they understand that fatigue increases the risk of accidents. Driving when tired in itself can impair the driver's attention and ability to react.

In addition to intoxication, speeding has been one of the typical individual risk factors in accidents caused by intoxicated drivers investigated by traffic accident investigation teams. Speeding is a significant risk factor for road accidents. Speeding leads to loss of vehicle control and more serious collisions.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and narcotics is a significant risk factor for road accidents. Driving while intoxicated affects the driver's attention, ability to react and decision-making. 

Traffic culture and attitudes at the heart of the change in road safety

According to preliminary data, there were 173 fatalities on Finnish roads in 2023. Even in 2008, more than three hundred people still lost their lives on the roads. However, over the past 20 years, however, there have been no major changes in road traffic fatalities by road user group. Fatalities involving cars and vans have steadily accounted for around 60% of all road traffic fatalities. Vulnerable road users, i.e. pedestrians and cyclists, have accounted for around one fifth of all road traffic fatalities.

The statistics raise questions as to why the relative share of fatalities involving cars and vans does not fall faster than others? You might also ask whether, despite the prevailing positive developments surrounding road user groups, there is a certain proportion of people every year who are in a hurry to die and tired of life?

An examination of mortality among road user groups makes it seem important to address car and vulnerable road users in particular if we want to achieve a significant reduction in road traffic fatalities. Road traffic fatalities can be prevented, for example, through traffic control, infrastructure planning and implementation that increases safety, speed limits, training and education, but the most important way to prevent traffic fatalities are road users themselves. Various measures must be taken to make Finnish traffic culture and attitudes on the road more conducive to the promotion of road safety.

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