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17-year-old drivers in three weekend crashes, 13 people injured

At least three underage drivers granted early licenses were in serious accidents this weekend in Southwestern Finland.

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Police say they are concerned by a spike in speeding and accidents involving teenage drivers. Image: Minna Rosvall / Yle

On Sunday, the Southwestern Finland Police Department reported a third road accident this weekend involving a 17-year-old motorist with a special underage license. All three crashes caused injuries requiring hospitalisation.

Early Sunday, a driver slid off a road in the Ruissalo district of Turku, striking a tree. Two people were taken to hospital, police said on Twitter. The motorist is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.

On Saturday, another driver of the same age crashed in Lavia, in the west-coast city of Pori. That head-on collision on a straight gravel road left two young people seriously injured and seven others with minor injuries. The driver of the other car is suspected of aggravated endangerment of traffic safety and grievous bodily injury.

Also on Saturday, a young driver drove off a straight road in Vehmaa, between Turku and Pori and was seriously hurt. The motorist, who was in the vehicle alone, is also suspected of aggravated endangerment of traffic safety.

High speeds in Lapland

Meanwhile, further north in Tornio, the Lapland Police Department reported on Sunday that three young drivers are likewise suspected of aggravated endangerment for driving far above the speed limit this weekend.

One of them, a 17-year-old with a special permit, was clocked at 208 kilometres an hour on a motorway with a 120 kph speed limit.

Until 2018, it was extremely rare for 17-year-olds to be granted permission to get a driving license before the standard age of 18. In 2016 just three were approved, with 13 in 2017.

In 2018, the criteria for receiving such a permit was loosened considerably. In 2019 more than 9,000 were issued, and nearly as many have been granted so far this year, according to the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom).

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