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DUI-related accidents claim 300+ lives in four years

The proportion of fatal accidents involving alcohol or drugs has increased in recent years, as the overall number of deaths on Finland's roads has gradually fallen over the past decade.

Valtatiellä 3 tapahtui Lempäälässä liikenneonnettomuus, joka sulki moottoritien.
File photo of emergency services attending a traffic accident near the city of Tampere. Image: Juha Kokkala / Yle
Yle News

There were a total of 283 traffic accidents deemed to have been caused by intoxicated drivers on Finland's roads between 2017 and 2021, claiming the lives of 308 people.

A report published on Wednesday by the Accident Information Institute (abbreviated as OTI in Finnish) analysed fatal accidents over a four-year period in which a car driver, cyclist or pedestrian were under the influence of one or more intoxicating substances.

Such substances include alcohol, drugs and prescription medicine that significantly hamper the ability to drive.

In addition to the drivers themselves, the fatalities have also included 43 passengers, 20 people travelling in another vehicle, six cyclists and three pedestrians.

This figure represents an increase in the number of fatal collisions involving intoxicated drivers, with about one third of Finland's 758 fatal accidents between 2017 and 2021 caused by intoxicated drivers.

Alcohol remains the most common intoxicant, although one in three drivers were found to have used two or more substances.

Overall, the number of deaths on Finland's roads has gradually fallen over the past decade, from a high of 270 fatalities in 2015 to a record low 189 in 2022.

Drug-related collisions rising

The report found that more than half (63 percent) of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers were single-vehicle crashes with no other parties involved, with just over a third (37 percent) involving one or more other vehicles.

Of the accidents caused by drug-driving drivers, 39 percent were collisions with another vehicle.

The proportion of collisions involving a driver found to have taken a banned substance has increased in recent years. In 2018 there were two such accidents for the entire year, while in 2021 that figure had risen to 13, according to Esa Räty, Traffic Safety Manager at OTI, who compiled the report.

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