Paula Risikko (NCP), the Minister of Transport and Local Government, expressed her concerns over traffic safety after recent reports about two fatal accidents in the small municipality of Toholampi, Central Ostrobothnia.Alcohol and speeding pose the greatest risks for motorists on Finnish roads during the summer months, views Paula Risikko (NCP), the Minister of Transport and Local Government.

“Annually, 7,100 people are injured and 260 killed in road traffic accidents in Finland. Despite our efforts, we haven't been able to take control of the situation,” Risikko said over the phone after participating in a discussion event in Pori on Tuesday.

Risikko also revealed that she awoke to the urgent need to enhance traffic safety after hearing about the recent fatal road accidents in Toholampi. In the Central Ostrobothnian municipality, a ten-year-old child died in a motorcycle accident last weekend and four young people died after driving off the road in early July.

“The reform of the Road Traffic Act will be presented to the Parliament in 2016. I've decided to invite young people to spar with lawmakers,” Risikko revealed. The group of young people, she added, will convene regularly to mull over measures to prevent road traffic accidents among young people.

The minister also proposed that shock therapy be used to weed out the attitude problem of young Finns. “When we reach out to schools and talk about traffic safety, I hope that young people injured in accidents step forward and speak to other young people. That would demonstrate the real consequences of accidents,” she said.

A concrete and frequently proposed measure to enhance traffic safety is the reduction of the drunk driving limit. A survey conducted on social media platforms by the Finnish Transport Safety Agency indicates that two in three Finns would be willing to cut the limit to 0.2 per mil.

Although Risikko agrees, the legislative work has yet to begin.

“I'm not exactly sure what's the reason. The Ministry of Justice could draw up the law. I personally advocate the cut, and that is also the position of the Ministry of Transport and the Police,” the minister stressed.

Jose Riikonen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva