The National Police Board of Finland has launched a week-long campaign to clamp down on motorists who flout pedestrian crossing rules, neglect to use the safety features on cars and motorbikes, or use mobile phones and other distracting devices.
Police officers will also check the residence status of foreigners they encounter while performing their regular duties during the campaign.
The National Police Board highlights in a press release that in recent years almost two-thirds of fatal road accidents and 90 per cent of non-fatal road accidents involving a pedestrian have occurred in urban population centres. Pedestrians have accounted for 12 per cent of the fatalities and seven per cent of the people injured in the accidents.
A fifth of the fatal and over a half of the non-fatal accidents took place at a pedestrian crossing, it adds.
Pedestrian crossings entail risks especially for children and elderly people, according to the National Police Board: a third of the pedestrians who were injured in accidents at pedestrian crossings were aged 65 or older, while roughly a quarter of them were children or young people.
“Accidents at pedestrian crossings typically occur as a result of several contributing factors,” tells Heikki Kallio, a detective chief superintendent at the National Police Board.
“The single greatest reason for hazardous situations and accidents is usually that motorists do not recognise the significance of a pedestrian crossing or their own obligations when approaching the crossing,” he says. “The law states that approaching vehicles must be travelling at a speed that they can stop before the pedestrian crossing if necessary. Motorists have to give way to pedestrians who are on the crossing or about to step onto it.”
Kallio adds that the accident risk increases further if the motorist is not fully focused on driving and the nearby environment. Mobile phones, he reveals, are the most common cause of distracted driving.
Police officers around the country will this week also pay particular attention to the residence statuses of foreign nationals.
“In practice, this means that when a police officer checks the identity of a person involved in a police task and that person turns out to be a foreign national, the officer will also determine if they meet the requirements for residence,” explains Mia Poutanen, a detective chief superintendent at the National Police Board.
Police officers will additionally conduct inspections at restaurants and other pre-determined premises based in tip-offs and analysed data.
“Police actions must never be based solely on the actual or presumed ethnic origin of a person, but the actions must be justified based on a tip-off or analysed data regarding illegal residence,” tells Poutanen.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva