Average road speed measurement trials to take place through summer

Speed camera located near Vääna-Jõesuu, just West of Tallinn.
Speed camera located near Vääna-Jõesuu, just West of Tallinn. Source: ERR

The Transport Board (Transpordiamet) has been tasked by Climate Minister Kristen Michal (Reform) along with the Estonian government's traffic commission to start measuring the average speed of vehicles in zones lying between speed cameras, on major highways.

Minister Michal says this is currently at trial stage, and fines for violations have not yet been imposed

The government's traffic committee is an inter-agency and private sector body which deals with traffic issues as its name suggests. It discusses various potential road safety measures, including the use of different options for checking the average speed of any given road section.

Michal told ERR's radio news that as of now the Transport Board will be asked to check how average speed measurement systems work, whether a method is viable, which types of vehicles and times of day see more frequent episodes of speeding, and other data.

Michal said: "We are primarily dealing with a methodological or technical study, so that we in the traffic commission can then reassess whether this as traffic safety measure might be selected for future use," stressing that no personal data is being collected at present, nor will fines be issued.

Potential test sections where speeds will be measured in this way are listed as the Tallinn-Tartu, Tallinn-Narva, Tallinn-Pärnu and Ääsmäe-Haapsalu highways.

Pre-existing stationary speed cameras will still be used as a measuring tool, while the purpose of the study is to identify their technical capabilities for this task.

"This study is to be carried out over the summer, then in the fall we will discuss it at traffic committee level. Next, we will evaluate the impact of the system and whether it is applicable at all. From that point on, we can make decisions on whether we will start using it in real life scenarios," he went on.

At present, it is not yet known exactly when the Transport Board will start the trial average speed measurements; the Transport Board will inform the public on this in advance, Michal said.

Whether any legislative amendments will be needed in order to implement the measurement system will also be revealed during the course of the study, Michal said.

According to Michal, up to 5 percent of the most serious traffic offenders can feasibly be helped via, for example, training, and programs aimed at changing attitudes; come the fall, the government's traffic committee says it plans to discuss how to boost this percentage also.

"The goal is still to reach a situation of traffic which has as few casualties as possible, and also to reduce the number of road traffic accident fatalities. So we still have to deal with this more difficult aspect, more vigorously."

Automatic average speed checks are used in many parts of the world.

The Transport Board has recommended that this practice be adopted in Estonia as well, and would involve the actual driving speed of cars being calculated by two cameras at fixed points, at the start and end of a section of road.

Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi

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