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Dangerous Lorries on the Roads

Finnish Customs has calculated that the loads of one out of three long-haul lorries on the nation's roads are improperly secured. Many lorries also are deficiently documented and have sub-standard brakes. Vehicles operated by Finnish firms are considered to be generally in no better shape than those from abroad.

Rekkalastia tarkastetaan.
Image: Yle

As the year draws to a close, Finland's largest port, the Vuosaari harbour in the east of Helsinki, is exceptionally busy. Both the calendar year and the fiscal year are ending and freight has to be delivered.

Lorry loads inspected are picked out in advance on the basis of shipping documents. Very few spot checks are carried out.

"The situation has not improved in recent years. There are problems with every third load and a caution is issued to every fourth," says Senior Customs Inspector Ari Peltonen.

Finnish companies do not get off any easier.

"There's no reason for them to puff up their chests. They are in just as poor condition as the lorries from elsewhere in Europe," notes Peltonen.

Representatives of the Finnish Transport and Logistics Association (SKAL) are surprised by the claims of Customs officials.

"We have statistics from 2009 on the transport of dangerous items and they show that transport by Finnish firms is significantly better handled than those that come here from abroad," counters SKAL Logistics Chief Sakari Backlund.

Few drivers argue with Customs officers, but Peltonen has heard a lot of explanations.

"The worst example was a load of six electric motors that had been just lifted up onto a flatbed," he recalls. "The driver tried to argue that they were so heavy that they couldn't possibly fall off."

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