Traffic year 2021 from Police perspective: moped meets and racing on empty roads
Similar to the first Covid year, 2021 was also fairly exceptional traffic-wise as the pandemic kept traffic volumes lower than usual.
However, in light of gross traffic violations, the statistics show a step towards the normal because the number of gross violations was down by many cases, compared to the peak pandemic year 2020. However, the gross violations are still more common than in pre-pandemic years.
Responsible for traffic safety, Assistant Police Commissioner Hannu Kautto of the National Police Board points out that traffic safety strategy work was a particular focus area last year.
– We have contributed to the work for the national traffic safety strategy at the Ministry of Transport and Communications and have been collaborating with other stakeholder groups in the drafting of the operating and development plan for the Police traffic safety work. The strategy work will continue this year as Finland has been invited to join the core group preparing ROADPOL’s new strategy, he adds.
Less busy traffic lanes continue to attract excess behaviour
In 2021, the number of gross cases of traffic safety endangering was one third higher than the mean in the years 2017–2019, although lower than in the peak year 2020.
In 2021, the total of 89 263 cases of traffic safety endangering and gross forms of the violations were detected which is about nine percent up from the preceding year. The gross forms of the violation were about ten percent less than the year before.
– Based on Police statistics, the young, or under 21-years-olds, accounted for a somewhat larger share of cases of traffic safety endangering. Naturally, the Police does not wish this to become a persistent trend, Assistant Police Commissioner Kautto underlines.
Cases of driving under narcotics no longer grew
The number of driving under the influence was down from the previous year. In 2021, the Police caught 17 490 drivers under the influence while the corresponding number caught in 2020 totalled 20 216. The decrease was about 14 percent.
– The proportional growth in the number of cases under the influence of narcotics stalled while the percentual share of drunken driving of all cases of intoxication at the wheel started to increase. Compared to the year 2020, the decrease in the number of driving under the influence of narcotics was one fifth, he adds.
Despite lower traffic volumes, traffic fatalities did not decrease
Unfortunately, lower traffic volumes are barely reflected in the number of traffic fatalities. Based on advance statistics for 2021, 219 persons died in road traffic accidents, only four persons less than in 2020. Comparing various road user groups, the largest death toll growth was seen among motor cyclists, with eight more traffic deaths compared to the preceding year.
The number of traffic accidents known to the Police totalled 3 803, which is 566 cases down from 2020. The number of the injured has shown a declining trend over the past few years.
– When analysing these numbers, it is worth remembering that a part of the injuries is not reported to the Police and are thus not included in the official statistics. The majority of these cases are individual cases of injuries suffered by cyclists, Assistant Police Commissioner Kautto adds.
Drunken driving accidents caused the death or injury of 372 persons in 2021, 34% less than in 2020. The accidents where the driver or pedestrian was under the influence of intoxicants other than alcohol caused a total of 106 deaths. That is about 40 percent less than in 2020.
Police kept busy by meets and gatherings
Traffic control operations account for about 40 percent of the entire Police control workload. In 2021, the Police involvement in traffic controls amounted to 472.1 person years which is 2.5 percent down from 2020, when the pandemic caused the cancellation of a number of training events and liberated the workforce to an exceptional volume of controls.
– We continued to focus on the heavy traffic controls, spending 54.5 person years on these operations, one percent up from 2020, he adds.
Moped meets and other types of rallies were increasingly frequent and caused more work to the Police every weekend, excluding the winter times. These gatherings of the young also involved not only traffic behaviour which endangered the safety or children and the young but also a significant component of general disturbance and also resistance targeted at Police operations.
– As a result, the Police will continue to invest in control operations this year by targeting the controls at dangerous traffic behaviour by the young in various meets and by focusing efficient controls on moped and motorbike conditions and road traffic worthiness, Assistant Police Commissioner Kautto comments on this this year’s focal areas.
Objective is to prevent serious traffic accidents
This year, the objective of the Police traffic controls is to enhance the results of the work by underlining information-based operations and, of course, traffic safety.
– The objective of controls is to prevent serious traffic accidents and crimes. We try to take all road users into consideration. Therefore, we increase active control operations which will improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, he adds.
The safe traffic of the future is taking shape today. This year, the National Police Board implements the Police operative and development plan for traffic control and safety for 2022-2030. The plan comprises Police measures to make roads safer for all Finnish users.
– It has been a major effort to plan the various Police measures with the objective of promoting a positive traffic safety trend in the next decade, Assistant Commissioner Kautto concludes.