Police in southwestern Finland began testing the first of a new batch of high resolution speed cameras on Thursday. The new cameras will monitor motorists' speed at the intersection of highways 6 and 359 in the municipality of Kouvola.
"First of all, the purpose is to monitor the reliability of this camera here. We want to test that everything works properly before we introduce the rest of the new speed cameras," explained police inspector Heikki Ihalainen.
The distinctive blue, black and white slim-build speed cameras were designed and manufactured by the Swedish traffic management company Sensys Gatso Group and offer a range of features not found in older speed trap cameras currently in use, such as advanced tracking radar tech.
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"The new radar technology brings tangible benefits, as the camera's technology no longer needs to be relied on as much. Furthermore, the picture quality is much more accurate," said inspector Ihalainen.
The upgraded radar can track the time, speed, distance, direction of travel and driving lane of the vehicle that the device is scanning. When it detects a vehcile is travelling above the speed limit, the camera snaps a photo of the culprit and sends it wirelessly to the Police Traffic Safety Centre.
The radar can measure speeds from a distance of up to 150 metres while the camera's range is approximately 30 metres, and the new technology is already has already been tested in Sweden.
"The feedback from the Swedish police on the cameras has been good. The most important message has been that the cameras are durable and reliable," Ihalainen said.
Not all boxes have a camera installed
There are nearly 1,000 of the older generation speed camera boxes in Finland, but not all of them are always fitted with cameras. Instead, police frequently switch cameras between the boxes. According to Ihalainen, the police currently have no intention of replacing any of the old boxes with the new cameras.
A total of 42 new speed control boxes have recently been installed on Finnish roads. Of these, 23 are located between the cities of Jyväskylä and Heinola on the highway 4 route in Central Finland, and 16 have been installed on highway 6 between Kouvola and Loviisa along the southern coast.
In addition, one new camera pole has been installed next to the old police station in the centre of Oulu, and two more in the centre of Helsinki on Mechelininkatu.
Police plan to install the new type of cameras over the coming weeks, but will reveal their exact locations at a later date.
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For now, the police will monitor the functionality of the camera being introduced in Kouvola, and the intention is to install the rest of the new boxes by the end of July or the beginning of August at the latest.
"Installation work can begin elsewhere if the first speed camera works smoothly," Ihalainen explained, also adding that the police do not intend to put a camera in all the new control posts.
Cameras can also track phone usage
The new Road Traffic Act, which will come into force in June 2020, also allows the police to monitor driver behaviour - not just vehicle speeds.
Going forward, police will soon also be able to use images of drivers not wearing seat belts or holding a mobile phone.
A recent ESRA2 report found half of Finns admitted to talking on their phones whilst driving, and more than a third had sent text or social media messages while behind the wheel.
"You can also get a fine for using your phone while driving or without a seat belt," Ihalainen warned.