Drivers: keep these things in mind this Christmas
As the holiday season approaches, we would like to remind all motorists about the basic safety of holiday traffic to ensure that there are no accidents this Christmas. Fintraffic´s Road Traffic Management, the National Police Board, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, the Ministry of the Interior Department for Rescue Services, the Emergency Response Centre Agency and the Finnish Road Safety Council will look after the safety of holiday traffic again this year and wish everyone a very safe journey.
Holiday traffic forecasts—be prepared and plan your departure and route in advance
For most people, the holiday period this year is short as the actual holidays fall on a weekend. This means that the holiday traffic is heavily concentrated on only a few days, so you should prepare for occasional congestion.
According to the Fintraffic road traffic centre’s traffic forecasts, outgoing traffic will most likely start already on Thursday the 22nd, when traffic will be busier than usual. The busiest day of outgoing traffic will be on Friday the 23rd with the peak hours from 12 noon to 6 pm, with peak-hour traffic continuing later into the evening in the north. Traffic will be busiest on Highway 3 between Helsinki and Tampere and on Highway 4 between Helsinki and Heinola.
Return traffic will begin in the afternoon on 25 December. Moderate traffic is expected on the weekend and traffic volumes will not be lower than on a normal weekday. The busiest day in return traffic will be Monday the 26th. The highest traffic volumes are expected on the southbound lanes of Highways 3 and 4 and on Highway 9 between Orivesi and Tampere.
“You should be prepared for occasional congestions on the busiest sections of the road, especially in outgoing traffic prior to Christmas. However, there will most likely be no major congestions as the traffic volumes during Christmas are typically lower than at Midsummer, for example. As the holidays fall on a weekend, some people will probably stay home instead of travelling. When planning your journey, you should remember that the most important factor in traffic is the condition of the road and weather. The forecasts this moment indicate that the road conditions in different parts of the country will be difficult,” says Eero Sauramäki, Head of the Fintraffic Traffic Management Centre.
You can check the traffic conditions of your route in Fintraffic's Traffic Situation service, which provides easy access to current traffic and road conditions, for example. Weather forecasts and current traffic weather warnings can be found on the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s website.
Rest well before getting behind the wheel, forget unnecessary hurry
The Police will monitor the safety of outgoing and return traffic this Christmas as usual. Special attention will be paid to speeding, fineable offences and drink driving.
“Leaving hurry behind, relaxing for the Christmas and love for others should all be kept in mind for the journey and not only when you arrive wherever you decide to spend Christmas, to make the journey part of the holiday,” says Chief Superintendent Tuomo Katajisto from the National Police Board. In traffic, this means anticipating different situations, avoiding unnecessary overtaking, consideration for other users of the road and yielding if there is no one in front of you and a long queue behind you.
The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom would also like to highlight the importance of a rested and observant driver.
“Give yourself time to rest and don’t drive if you feel tired. If possible, try to plan your journeys during daylight and remember that, as you get older, it is more difficult for your eyes to get adjusted to dim light. Drivers should also remember to take breaks so that they have the energy to focus on what is important, driving itself,” says Senior Expert Inkeri Parkkari from Traficom.
Pay attention to safe distances to ensure safety and save money
The Finnish Road Safety Council would like to remind drivers about the meaning of safe distances this Christmas. Adequate distances to other cars make driving safer, smoother and also more economical.
“Proper safe distances allow drivers to anticipate traffic better and keep some leeway in case of surprises. What distance is considered adequate depends on the weather, road conditions and speed. A longer distance must be kept if the speed is high or if there is heavy snowfall,” says Contact Manager Elias Ruutti from the Finnish Road Safety Council.
“Tailgating is not only stressful to the person in front of you, but also to yourself. Failure to keep a proper distance may also increase the need to overtake others unnecessarily, even if it only results in braking, the accordion effect and slower traffic. It can also be seen in fuel consumption, which is lowered by steady speeds,” Ruutti says.
What to do in the event of an accident – download the 112 Suomi app
Safety authorities are prepared to help in case of accidents. Go over what to do in the event of an accident in Christmas traffic and download the 112 Suomi app.
“If you notice a traffic accident, stop in a safe place and turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights. Move along the edge of the road to the site of the accident and seek to prevent additional damage by turning off the car’s engine and warning other traffic. Also keep your own safety in mind and, if it’s dark, make yourself more visible by, for example, wearing a high-visibility vest. Set up the warning triangle at a sufficient distance from the site of the accident, contact the emergency services and help the injured as much as you can. If professional help has already arrived at the site of the accident, focus on passing the site safely, lower your speed sufficiently and do not film or take pictures of the site,” says Alpo Nikula, Senior Officer at the Ministry of the Interior Department for Rescue Services.
The Emergency Response Centre Agency would also like to remind everyone of the services offered by the 112 Suomi app.
“Drivers should download the 112 Suomi mobile app in case of an emergency or a problem. In an emergency, you can call the emergency phone number 112 through the app. You can also use the app to call the Road User’s phone line, in which case your location data can be used to easily deliver information about road maintenance needs to the right place. You can also get announcements about road traffic disruptions and potential official and emergency warnings through the app in accordance with your location. Learn how to use the app and its services in advance to ensure that you know how to use it in an emergency,” says Planning Manager Tommi Hopearuoho from the Emergency Response Centre Agency.