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Watch: Reindeer alert app makes Lapland roads safer for drivers

Technology is helping motorists to avoid reindeer, one of the biggest causes of road accidents in Lapland.

Reindeer alert app, Porokello
Yle News

"I once hit six reindeer all at the same time," truck driver Tuomas Juopperi told Yle News. "It was dark and slippery."

"And they all died," he added as he barrelled along open expanses of road last autumn.

There are over 200,000 reindeer in Lapland - almost as many as there are people - and they cause around 4,000 traffic accidents in the region every year.

Now, a project funded by the Finnish Transport Agency is using an app to try to reduce the number of reindeer-related accidents on Lapland’s roads.

The new reindeer alert app, Porokello, uses mobile phone and satellite navigation location services to warn users of reindeer on the road.

Warnings are uploaded by a network of drivers - usually bus or truck drivers - who can press a button to place a location marker on the map when they see a reindeer while driving.

The marker, which remains in place for 30 minutes, will trigger a warning in the app for other Porokello users as they approach the location.

Lapland is reindeer territory

"There are a lot of reindeer in Lapland, and they are half wild, so they can basically go anywhere they want," said Porokello driver and land surveyor Tommi Uusimäki.

"I see it as a small favour to other drivers that if I see the reindeer, I can just press a button, and maybe it will help them to drive safer," he added.

The Porokello project is run by the Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment or 'Ely-keskus', and has received support from the Finnish Reindeer Herders' Association.

"Some reindeer herders have the application," explained app developer Ahti Lahtela. "I listened to drivers and they were happy it’s so simple to use. It doesn’t take your attention very much when you’re driving."

Porokello project manager, Henna Nurminen, told Yle News that the project has had a positive impact in the region. "This year it looks as if our work is working, the [number of] reindeer accidents is quite low at this time."

"Reindeer currently cause about 4,000 accidents a year. Our goal is to get to 2,000," she noted.

Porokello was publicly launched in September 2017, and Nurminen claimed it has between 500-1,000 daily users.

This past autumn, there were 2,952 accidents involving reindeer in Lapland compared to 4,133 in 2017, according to figures provided by Nurminen.

Sources: Yle News / Tom Bateman

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