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Poll: 40% report close-calls or accidents at zebra crossings

A Finnish Road Safety Council-commissioned survey suggests 20 percent of pedestrians fear crossing the street.

Arkistokuva: Kävelijät ylittävät suojatietä.
Crosswalks are the most dangerous part of many children's walk to school. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

Two out of every five respondents to a new poll report having been involved in a dangerous incident or accident on a pedestrian crossing. One in five said that they are afraid to cross the street even on familiar crosswalks.

Three out of five of the respondents nevertheless said they believe that using pedestrian crossings is safe in general, and about half said that motorists in Finland generally give way to pedestrians at crosswalks without traffic lights.

The Finnish Road Safety Council-commissioned poll of 1,082 respondents was conducted by pollster Kantar in late May-early June. 78 percent of the interviewees self-identified as motorists as well as pedestrians.

The survey discovered that one out in three of the drivers responding to the survey feared creating a dangerous situation when giving way to pedestrians on zebra crossings in the midst of heavy traffic.

Every fourth person responding to the survey also said that they would be annoyed while driving if they had to stop for everyone who might potentially be crossing. Even so, 90 percent said they do tend to stop and let people cross, even if there is traffic behind them.

Motorists must give way to pedestrians in Finland

Finnish law requires motorists to give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing. Even so, the Finnish Road Safety Council advises walkers to make sure oncoming motorists notice them and reduce their speed before stepping into the street. In Finland, a cyclist who walks a bicycle across the street is considered a pedestrian.

The Council reports that approximately 35 pedestrian fatalities and 550 injuries occur in road traffic each year. Of the victims, one in six is a child. Tomorrow marks the start of most schools in Finland, and drivers are encouraged to be especially mindful of the schoolkids on the road.

"Pedestrian crossings present the largest safety concern on many routes. As adults, we are ultimately responsible for the safety of our children," says the council's head Anna-Liisa Tarvainen.

The group also points out that reflector tags also prevent many pedestrian accidents each year, an important factor as Finland moves towards shorter days.

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