When drivers maintain safe speeds, follow the rules of the road and practice other safe driving behaviors, walking environment becomes safer. Pedestrians too have the responsibility to follow traffic rules and obey signs and signals. In Finland pedestrians use pavements and other pedestrian paths or the verge of the road.
Use pedestrian paths
Pedestrians are people travelling on foot, using scooters and wheelchairs or pushing their bicycles or mopeds instead of riding them. Also people skiing or using mobility devices assisting or replacing walking must follow the rules and regulations for pedestrians.
In Finland pedestrians are to use areas designated for pedestrians: pedestrian paths or pavements.
If there is no pedestrian path
If there is no pedestrian path or a pavement pedestrians use the verge of the road. If there is no verge, walk on the left side of the road – unless the right side is safer for some reason.
Cross the road safely
The safest way to cross the road is to use pedestrian crossings: a zebra crossing, a pedestrian overpass or underpass. Always use one, if one is nearby. At traffic lights, wait for the green light.
If there is no pedestrian crossing:
- Think about whether it is a safe place to cross.
- Stop at a safe distance back from the kerb before you cross the road.
- Look both ways for approaching vehicles before you cross the road. Just because someone else decides to cross, doesn’t mean it’s safe for you.
- Make sure you can clearly see vehicles coming from both directions.
- Don’t assume that an approaching vehicle can see you – wait until all vehicles have passed before you consider stepping off the kerb.
- Avoid crossing between parked cars. Take note that large vehicles like buses can hide you from the view of approaching drivers.
In Finland winter conditions and shortness of day affect pedestrian safety too. In slippery weather conditions it is important to wear footwear with a good grip or shoe cleats.
During the dark season reflectors improve pedestrian visibility. The law states that pedestrians should generally use a reflector in dark and dusk.
Electric mobility devices
Electric mobility devices or aids with power no greater than 1 kW and structural maximum speed of 15 km/h can be used on pavements and other pedestrian paths.
A self-balancing light electric vehicle can also be used on the pavement, but its user must give unobstructed access to pedestrians.
Using a phone while walking
Also as a pedestrian it is important to remain aware of your environment and avoid unnecessary distractions. The use of a mobile phone can draw your attention away from traffic also when on foot. Stop before reading or sending messages. A mobile phone user may not even notice the dangerous situations they are causing, as they are focused on their mobile phone.
The number of pedestrian traffic deaths and injuries has halved in the last ten years. Over the past three years, an average of 21 pedestrians died and 360 were injured each year. One in ten road traffic fatalities and seven per cent of the injured are pedestrians.
In Finland all fatal traffic accidents are investigated by the Finnish road accident investigation teams. In 2021 they examined a total of 23 fatal pedestrian accidents. 17 percent of the pedestrian accidents happened at a pedestrian crossing and 82% (n=19) at a place other than a pedestrian crossing. A total of nine pedestrian accidents took place in the dark.
Pedestrians must follow the rules of the road and apply the care and caution required by the conditions. As road users pedestrians are also subject to the requirement to anticipate the behaviour of other road users and adapt their actions accordingly to promote smooth and safe traffic. To unduly block or impede traffic is prohibited.
Always show due care and consideration for others.