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Speeding stats record broken despite safer Finnish driving

Traffic enforcement cameras in Finland clocked some 556,000 individual counts of speeding in 2016. The figure represents a 36-percent increase that is due to heightened surveillance. Reckless driving has in fact lessened, police say.

Peltipoliisi, eli nopeusvalvontakamera.
Need for speed: traffic control cameras are making Finnish roads safer. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Mounted automatic traffic enforcement cameras dot the sides of Finnish highways, and in 2016 they registered more than 556,000 cases of speeding – a national record.

The figure is a 36-percent increase from 2015, when some 408,000 cases of above-limit driving were clocked.

A total of 312,000 official warnings were handed out, and this form of traffic enforcement grew the most, by 44 percent. Mild traffic offense penalties of 140-200 euros (227,000 instances) grew by 27 percent, while full traffic fines saw a 19-percent rise.

Automatic surveillance accounts for a majority of speeding tickets in the country.

Police praise drivers and measures

The reason behind the percentual rise in speed-related traffic violations is not that drivers are slamming the gas harder, but comes after traffic safety control measures have been redoubled.

"Driving speeds have gone down significantly, and speeding is far less common than it used to be," says Dennis Pasterstein, chief of the Police Traffic Safety Centre. "Speeding has gone down by a third in relation to overall traffic volume, which is excellent. Last year was nearly the best on record in terms of road safety."

Pasterstein says that the number of speeders getting pinned is on the rise due to the heightened surveillance and accelerated caseload handling.

"No new cameras were added to the stock last year, but they were kept on for longer periods of time," Pasterstein says. "I'm not surprised by the statistical rise; the machines and our unit are doing what they're meant to."

Figures set to rise, safety to improve

The new national record for driving faster than allowed may have just been broken, but the record is not set to stay the same for long.

"This year we estimate there to be more than 600,000 speeding cases. Road safety will continue to improve, partly due to these increased measures," Pasterstein says.

The Traffic Safety Centre is to hire more staff to handle speeding tickets, and 60 more enforcement cameras will be added to the force. Some 130-140 so-called "tin police" will then be in operation in Finland.

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