Driver-related risks often behind fatal crashes

Bulletin 30 December 2016

The Finnish Crash Data Institute (OTI)

In 2015, there were 257 fatal road accidents. The number of motor traffic accidents increased by 35 on the previous year, whereas the number of pedestrian and bicycle accidents remained almost unchanged. Driver-related factors were in the background of the majority (66%) of motor vehicle accidents.

Background risks related to the driver's condition include intoxication, illness, tiredness and factors related to mental state, such as depression or agitation. The background factors do not cause problems as such, but they contribute to their occurrence behind the accidents.

"The number of accidents that took place while the driver was intoxicated increased clearly compared to the previous year. In particular, the number of drivers apparently with substance abuse problems who exceeded the limit of driving while seriously intoxicated increased. In addition to intoxicating substances, drivers' other health problems were common background factors in accidents," says Tapio Koisaari, Liaison Manager at OTI.

Last year, approximately one in four drivers causing a fatal accident in road traffic were driving while intoxicated. In addition, there were 13 road accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists where the cyclist, pedestrian or driver of motor vehicle had a blood alcohol level of at least 0.5 per mille.

In 2015, there were 198 fatal road accidents, in which 222 people died. A total of 51 people were seriously injured. In addition, there were 59 pedestrian and bicycle road accidents, in which 30 pedestrians and 29 cyclists died.

The figures compiled by the Finnish Crash Data Institute (OTI) are based on confirmed data on accidents investigated by the road accident investigation teams last year.

Traffic barriers are a significant safety factor

The consequences of almost one-fourth of fatal accidents could have been less severe, had the site of the accident had median barriers or the barriers been installed better.

"Sometimes the barriers can be too low or short, but the most common problem is that there are no traffic barriers at all, neither median barriers or other. While waiting for new and safer vehicles to become more common, it is important to pay attention to barrier solutions. Barriers could improve traffic safety regardless of the vehicles involved," Koisaari remarks.

Additional information:

  • Tapio Koisaari, Liaison Manager, tel. +358 40 450 4782
  • Communication, tel. +358 40 450 4700


The Finnish Crash Data Institute (OTI) works to prevent road accidents in Finland. OTI coordinates the operations of road accident investigation teams and administers the data collected in the investigations, in addition to its other traffic accident statistics. The amount and quality of the statistical data are unique by international standards. OTI provides important information that can be used to improve traffic safety at both legislative and practical levels. The institute operates as an independent unit
within the Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre.