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Week-long police operation zeros in on crossings, seat belts and mobile phones

Police in Finland this week are carrying out special traffic safety surveillance operations focused on pedestrian crossings, seat belt use and violations by drivers texting or talking on mobile phones.

According to police, over half of all pedestrian traffic injuries happen on at zebra crossings. Image: Viivi Sihvonen / Yle

This week, police nationwide are implementing increased surveillance of traffic at crosswalks and of any drivers' behaviour which might endanger pedestrian safety - especially the use of mobile phones while driving. According to estimates by the European Commission, distractions, such as mobile phones, are a factor in up to 30 percent of all traffic accidents in the EU.

Over the past few years, close to two-thirds of pedestrian fatalities and 90 percent of injuries occurred within city limits. No less than 12 percent of all traffic fatalities and 7 percent of injuries involved pedestrians. Children and the elderly are especially at risk.

Seat belts save lives

Police say that even though the use of seat belts has improved in recent years, there are still too many people who don't buckle up.

"Some people neglect to use seat belts especially in urban areas, and in back seats, as well as in vans and lorries. Checks and reminders are the tools police have to improve seat belt use," points out Inspector Heikki Kallio of the National Police Board.

Traffic safety investigators believe that around one-third of people who die annually in road accidents in Finland would have survived had they been wearing a seat belt.

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