Let’s drive thoughtfully this Christmas – be prepared and keep a safe distance

Let’s drive thoughtfully this Christmas, and take the prevailing coronavirus situation into account. As the number of coronavirus cases is rising rapidly, it’s advisable to keep a safe distance not only between vehicles, but also from other travellers at rest stops. As in previous years, Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, the National Police Board, the Ministry of the Interior’s Department for Rescue Services, the Emergency Response Centre Agency and the Finnish Road Safety Council will once again be ensuring that traffic flows smoothly, and would also like to wish everyone a safe Christmas.

Be prepared 

As Christmas falls on the weekend this year, many of us will have quite a short Christmas holiday. This means that Christmas traffic will be concentrated on only a few days, and we should be prepared for occasional queues.

According to forecasts from Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre, outgoing traffic will already be visible on main roads from the afternoon of 22 December. However, outgoing traffic volumes will peak between 12 noon and 6 pm on 23 December, with peak-hour traffic also continuing later into the evening in the north. There may also be occasional queues and a decrease in traffic speed on the busiest sections of Highways 4, 5 and 9. Similarly, returning traffic will start on the morning of 26 December and continue well into the evening.

“Due to the coronavirus situation, you should think very carefully about your journey this Christmas and plan your route in advance. Keep a safe distance and leave some extra time so you can take coronavirus-safe breaks. It’s advisable to check traffic volumes in advance using Fintraffic’s Traffic Situation service. You will be able to see traffic volumes along your route and thereby avoid the most congested times,” says Marika Saarenpää, Head of Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre.

When setting out on a winter journey, you should also be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. It is therefore advisable to keep abreast of current weather conditions and warnings by checking the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s website (ilmatieteenlaitos.fi).

Drivers: stay alert and check the condition of your car

A little advance preparation will help you avoid many unpleasant surprises on the road. It is advisable to check your windscreen wiper blades, windscreen washing fluid, lightbulbs and the condition of your tyres. In addition to checking your car, it is also a good idea to have the most experienced and rested driver behind the wheel.

“Make sure that all the lights work, and that you know how your car’s automatic lights work. Check the pressure and condition of your tyres. You should also remember to check the condition of your wiper blades and ensure that your windscreen washing fluid can withstand subzero temperatures,” says Inkeri Parkkari, a senior specialist at Traficom.

As usual, the police will be monitoring Christmas traffic throughout the country. The police will be keeping a particular look out for drink driving, speeding and other traffic violations. The police would also like to remind people of the importance of driver alertness.

“In the darkest season of the year, it’s even more important for drivers to remain alert. You should not drive when tired. Getting enough sleep before your journey and staying focused while driving both play a key role in ensuring safe Christmas traffic,” says Police Inspector Heikki Kallio from the National Police Board. 

Remember to keep a safe distance 

The Finnish Road Safety Council urges drivers to keep a safe distance on the road this Christmas. Maintaining a sufficient distance from other vehicles is vital in bad weather or when visibility is poor.

“When you keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, you can see what’s happening ahead of you and will be able to anticipate situations. You will also have time to react if something surprising occurs. Slippery roads mean longer braking distances, so it’s a good idea to keep even further away from the car in front when driving in icy weather,” says Toni Vuoristo from the Finnish Road Safety Council.

The Finnish Road Safety Council also highlights the importance that safety distances have on traffic flow, as smooth flowing traffic is all about cooperation. 

“Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles is beneficial even in normal winter weather. When a column of traffic is properly spaced out, it will prevent ‘speed-up-slow-down driving’ and allow traffic to flow smoothly. Your own actions therefore affect others and vice versa. Driving will also be more economical, and the driver can relax and get into the Christmas spirit,” says Vuoristo.

What to do in the event of an accident – remember the 112 Suomi mobile app

The safety authorities will be ready to assist in the event of an accident. Take this opportunity to revise what to do in the event of an accident and download the 112 Suomi mobile app to your phone.

“If you see a traffic accident, stop at a safe place and switch on your vehicle’s hazard warning indicators. Approach the accident site along the side of the road, and try to prevent any further damage by switching off the ignition in the accident vehicle and alerting other passing traffic. Don’t forget your own safety: make yourself more visible in the dark by, for example, wearing a reflective vest. Always place the triangular warning sign far enough from the accident site to allow enough time for other drivers to react, and call for help and assist the injured in any way you can. If professional assistance is already at the scene, focus on slowing down and safely passing the site, and don’t take any photos of the accident site,” says Alpo Nikula, Senior Officer at the Ministry of the Interior’s Department for Rescue Services.

The Emergency Response Centre Agency would also like to remind people about the 112 Suomi mobile app.

“We’d like to remind drivers to download the 112 Suomi mobile app in case of emergencies or other problems. In the event of an emergency, we recommend calling 112 via the app, as your exact location will be relayed to the emergency response services in real time, and help will be able to reach you more quickly. You can also use the app to call the road users’ hotline, so that your location information can be used to ensure that the correct person quickly receives information about road maintenance requirements. You can also use the app to read the latest traffic bulletins,” says Juha Suominen, head of department at the Emergency Response Centre Agency.

Additional information

Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre will also be on call 24/7 over Christmas. We answer all media enquiries concerning road traffic flow via our media telephone numbers: 

  • National: +358 (0)20 022 100 
  • Helsinki: +358 (0)20 637 3350  
  • Turku: +358 (0)20 637 3351  
  • Tampere: +358 (0)20 637 3352  
  • Oulu: +358 (0)20 637 3353

National Police Board: Police Inspector Heikki Kallio, +358 (0)295 481 556, heikki.kallio@poliisi.fi

Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom: Inkeri Parkkari, Senior Specialist, +358 (0)29 534 7089, inkeri.parkkari@traficom.fi

Finnish Road Safety Council: Toni Vuoristo, Planner, +358 (0)20 7282 349, toni.vuoristo@liikenneturva.fi

Ministry of the Interior, Department for Rescue Services: Alpo Nikula, Senior Officer, +358 (0)295 488 427, alpo.nikula@govsec.fi

Emergency Response Centre Agency: Juha Suominen, Head of Department (Police), +359 (0)295 481 303, juha.suominen@112.fi

Finnish Meteorological Institute: https://en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/warnings