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Finland sees record low number of road traffic fatalities in 2022

Long-term strategies aimed at increasing road safety are beginning to bear fruit, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency says.

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The number of people killed on Finland's roads during 2022 was 185, the lowest figure ever recorded.

Meanwhile, preliminary data published by Statistics Finland revealed that by the end of November, some 3,500 people had been injured in traffic accidents.

Pasi Anteroinen, Managing Director of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Liikenneturva, attributed the drop in fatalities to the success of long-term road safety strategies.

"The three main pillars of road safety are safe drivers, safe vehicles and a safe road environment. Dozens, if not hundreds, of measures have been taken over the years to achieve all of these, and this work is now bearing fruit," Anteroinen said.

Higher fuel prices have also led to many people reducing their car usage, and studies are currently underway to determine how much of an effect this factor has had on road safety.

"It may affect road safety, and this is being investigated," Anteroinen said.

Finland aiming for zero road deaths

Although Finland's road safety figures are heading in the right direction, Liikenneturva's Head of Research Juha Valtonen sees no reason for celebration just yet, as Finland still lags well behind its Nordic peers Norway and Sweden.

In a press release, Valtonen said it is important not to draw far-reaching conclusions based on just the 2022 data, but that Finland must continue to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the nation's roads.

"The target year for 'Zero Vision' [when road deaths should be at 0] is 2050, and by 2030 the number of road deaths should be below 100. So there is still work to be done," Valtonen said.

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Road deaths in Lapland down significantly

The national trend of reduced road deaths over recent years has been especially evident in Finnish Lapland, where in 2022 three people were killed and 107 injured by the end of November.

In the early 2000s, the number of people killed on Lapland's roads was regularly over 20 per year. This figure fell to about 12 per year over the last five years, and dropped to four in 2021.

"I have worked for the Finnish Transport Safety Agency for 27 years, and I remember a time when the number of road fatalities during the Christmas period alone could be as high as it is now for the whole year," Liikenneturva's Traffic Safety Liaison Manager Petri Niska said.

Just a few years ago, there were more than 200 personal injury accidents a year in Lapland, but this year the number has fallen to around 100.

"Compared to past years, Lapland has done quite well. When you factor in the number of tourists, we are doing very well. Rovaniemi, for example, has been full of tourists in recent weeks, and the rest of Lapland has also seen plenty of tourists all year round," Niska said.

He added that there are several factors which help to explain the improved situation, including road safety measures and the introduction of reduced speed limits in urban areas.

In the Lapland cities of Rovaniemi and Kemi, for example, the speed limit has been reduced to 30km/h.

Cycling helmets save lives

Niska also praised a changed attitude among cyclists and pedestrians to road safety.

"Safer behaviour has become more common. More people are wearing helmets, cyclists and bikes have lights, and reflectors are being used. Thanks go especially to the fathers and mothers who are passing on this safe behaviour to the next generation," Niska said.

He added that the number of cyclists and pedestrians being killed on Finland's roads has dropped significantly in recent years.

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