On Monday, the police will begin a one-week operation to control speeders. As part of a traffic alert, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) allowed anyone interested to mark potentially dangerous spots on an interactive map at the beginning of April. The police is getting now into action on these locations.
"Previously, the road checks lasted a day. This year, we will spend a week. In this way we can check more places, be more visible and calm traffic," a police lieutenant, Sirle Loigo, told ERR.
"Every year, thanks to citizen traffic initiatives, we discover locations that we would never have thought to check ourselves, but it is through these initiatives that we learn there is a problem," she continued.
Loigo said that the purpose of the traffic alerts for the police is to collaborate with the community and get people thinking about secure transportation.
"With thousands of observations coming into our map application every year, this is a sign that we are doing the right thing and that people want to make traffic safer and contribute to our work," she said.
Thousands of dangerous places flagged
Last year, the Traffic Alerts website identified over 3,600 speeding hotspots in Estonia. The number of areas where drivers tend to speed climbed and nearly 2,500 of those passages were reported between April 3 and 6.
Loigo said that traffic patrols are often done in the spring, when the asphalt is dry again and the weather is warm, and when drivers are more likely to speed and the number of fatalities increases.
"Due to the war that began last year, we conducted the traffic patrol in the fall, she said. Police officers calmed traffic in 1,154 locations throughout Estonia.
"On that day, 934 offenders were stopped, 416 speeding tickets were issued, and the same number of drivers who exceeded the speed limit were questioned," the police lieutenant explained.
"The goal is not to fine drivers, but to improve road safety," Loigo added. "Often, all it takes is for a police officer to contact a speeding driver and warn them, and the driver will then keep a much closer eye on the speedometer."
The hotspots recur every year
Loigo went on to say that the places reported to the police each year are consistent.
"In recent years, the Pärnu maantee, Paldiski maantee, A. H. Tammsaare tee and Sõpruse puiestee have been the most signposted main highways in Tallinn," she said. Typically, the locations where drivers tend to speed are wide, multi-lane roadways, she explained.
"At the same time, the highest volume of reports comes from smaller streets between residential housing, indicating that people care strongly about the safety of their neighborhood," Loigo continued.
According to his review of historical data, people are most likely to submit observations via the map application in cities where the speed restriction is 30 or 50 kilometers per hour. "This is extremely concerning because this is where the majority of pedestrians are and every kilometer per hour over the limit may results in more severe injuries," Loigo added.
"It should be said, the speed limit is exceeded not only in a few places in Estonia. Unfortunately, speeding became a social norm against which the police works daily," Loigo said.
Cooperation with Tallinn
When asked whether the police collaborates with municipal officials on the redesign of dangerous and pedestrianized areas, the police representative replied, "Yes, we have always shared our observations and ideas with the local authorities."
Municipalities have also taken the initiative to build speed limits on city streets. For example, they recently recommended to Tallinn Transport Department that the maximum speed restriction on Pärnu maantee between the viaduct and the city center be reduced.
"It was considered acceptable to drive without a seat-belt or under the influence of alcohol 20 ago," she continues, "but no one tolerates such behavior today. We want the same for speeding. Citizen traffic alerts is one way w
e are collaborating with the community to break this norm," Loigo explained.
Editor: Mait Ots, Kristina Kersa