Driving during working time is covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the employer must consider the risks of driving. It is good to remember that everyone is responsible for keeping their vehicles in proper condition.
A reform of the Road Traffic Act that took effect in 2020 aimed to make traffic safer and smoother. It increased drivers’ freedoms and also their responsibilities, calling on them to learn new rules. However, some areas are open to interpretation.
“The new Road Traffic Act increased freedom to some extent, but this highlights the driver’s responsibility for driving safely,” says Juha Merjama, CEO of Tapaturva, a specialist in promoting occupational safety.
Concerns over changing speed limits
The reform to the Road Traffic Act changed the yellow barrier (no overtaking) line to white, linked the use of winter tyres to the prevailing road conditions, and increased the options for parking.
The Act also introduced a raft of new road signs, such as signs indicating merging lanes, minimum speed limits, and bicycle streets.
Merjama is most concerned about the overhauls to speed limits. All vehicles with a total mass of less than 3,500 kg are now permitted to drive at the speed limit for the road in question. The maximum speed limit for a vehicle towing a trailer weighing up to 750 kg is 100 km/h. If the trailer weighs more than this, the maximum speed limit is 80 km/h.
“Van drivers must pay special attention to securing the goods in the back. Furthermore, everyone should check their trailer’s details and not just immediately drive at 100 km/h,” Merjama says.
Why the rush?
Siemens Energy works as the main contractor on several Fingrid substation contracts. Siemens Energy’s worksite managers and commissioners visit site after site.
“We constantly remind our employees to check the condition of their tyres, for example. Another common warning is to stay out of meetings that divert concentration while driving,” says Kaisa Ruusunen, Quality and Safety Coordinator.
She also points out that nothing can justify breaking the speed limit or driving too fast for the conditions:
“The impulse to rush often comes from an external party, not the driver.”