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The Finnish capital has improved traffic safety in the city through a range of measures including increased traffic control and reducing speed limits.
According to the City of Helsinki, there were no pedestrian fatalities in road traffic in the Finnish capital city last year.
It says precise statistics on accidents have been kept since 1960 and during this time there have been zero years in which there were no pedestrian lives lost in traffic. According to the data, three people died in traffic in Helsinki in 2019, one car driver and two motorcyclists.
With the exception of 2016, when three people also died in traffic, 2019 marked the best year in the period under review.
More than 400 people were injured in traffic in Helsinki in 2019, of whom almost 80 were pedestrians but many less serious injuries are never reported to the police, which may affect the statistics. Pedestrians slipping and falling are not recorded as traffic accidents.
The number of people who have died in traffic in Helsinki has decreased significantly over the past few decades. In the 1980s and up until the beginning of the 1990s, there were approximately 20-30 deaths each year. After this, the number of deaths started to decline significantly.
In the 2010s, on average seven people a year died in traffic in Helsinki. Most of the fatalities have been pedestrians almost every year. In the course of the current practice of recording statistics, the worst year was 1965 when 84 people died in traffic in Helsinki.
“The improvement in traffic safety is the sum of several factors. Traffic safety has improved due to betterments to the street environment, increasing traffic control, the development of vehicle safety measures and technology, and the development of rescue services. Reducing speed limits has also been a key factor,” says City of Helsinki traffic engineer Jussi Yli-Seppälä.
Helsinki decided to lower speed limits in 2018, and the new limits took force last year. Currently, the speed limit on streets in residential areas and the city centre is primarily 30 km/h. The speed limit on main streets is 50 km/h in suburban areas and 40 km/h in the inner city.
“Traffic safety has improved due to betterments to the street environment, increasing traffic control, the development of vehicle safety measures and technology, and the development of rescue services.”
The city will start installing 70 new traffic control cameras and making alterations aimed at improving the safety of pedestrian crossings in the most dangerous locations this year.
The information on traffic accident victims is based on traffic accidents reported to the police. The City of Helsinki said that the information for 2019 is only preliminary, and may change.
In January, the Norwegian capital of Oslo announced that a single driver died in a traffic accident in Oslo in 2019, down from five in 2018. No pedestrians, children or cyclists at all were killed on its roads last year.
The sole death in Oslo was a man whose car collided with a fence in June.
Figures from the Norwegian Public Roads Administration show the number of deaths on Oslo’s roads has fallen sharply, down from 41 deaths in 1975. On average, 3.6 people have died in traffic in Oslo in the last five years. Ten years ago, eight people were killed.
Norway has a ‘vision zero’ strategy, implemented in 2001, focused on reducing crashes that can lead to fatalities and serious injuries. It includes cutting average road speeds and increasing the number of safety features in cars.
Governing mayor of Oslo, Raymond Johansen, told SmartCitiesWorld that large investments in public transport, bicycle lanes and facilities for pedestrians, along with restrictions on car use and speed limits, had contributed to the achievement in Oslo.
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