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Journal Article


Res. Rep. Finn. Transp. Agency 2010; (19): online.


(Copyright © 2010, Finnish Transport Agency)






Since 1961 the Finnish Transport Agency has followed vehicle speed development on Finnish public roads. In the beginning the vehicle speeds were measured by radar. Since 1992 vehicle speeds on main roads have been automatically measured by a traffic monitoring system (TMS). In 2007 a constant traffic counting network was established on connecting roads. The network is a part of General traffic census in Finland. Besides of the traffic data, also vehicles speed data can be collected from the network. Since 1961 up to the beginning of the 1970s, the average vehicle speed increased rapidly. In 1973 a system of differentiated speed limits was introduced. The specified speed limits applied are 60, 70, 80, 100 and 120 km/h, of which most of the limits of 100 km/h and all of those of 120 km/h are reduced with 20 km/h during the wintertime. Speed limits decreased the average speed level by about 5 km/h. However, in 1975 vehicle speeds began to increase again, although at a slower pace, and the speed level of 1972 was reached around 1990. Since then the average vehicle speed has been almost the same. In the 21th century average vehicle speed has dropped by a 1 km/h. The vehicle speeds of year 2009 on the main roads were calculated from the data of 168 TMS stations. The annual average speed of all vehicles was then 89,8 km/h. For cars and vans the average speed was 90,9 km/h, for lorries 81,5 km/h and for buses 84,4 km/h. On main roads with a speed limit of 60 km/h, the average speed of all vehicles was 62,8 km/h. On main roads with a speed limit of 70 km/h, the average speed of all vehicles was 68,7 km/h, with a speed limit of 80 km/h 81,1 km/h, and with a speed limit of 100 km/h (without winter or varying speed limits) 86,6 km/h. On roads with a summertime speed limit of 120 km/h (in wintertime 100 km/h), the average speed of the whole year was 106,3 km/h. The vehicle speeds on the connecting roads were calculated from the data of 30 counting points. The annual average speed of all vehicles was then 60,7 km/h. All the roads regardless of the speed limit the average speed of all vehicles was almost 60 km/h; on roads of 50 km/h limit: 59,9 km/h, on roads of 60 km/h limit: 61,6 km/h and on roads that had 80 km/h speed limit: 60,5 km/h. The maximum monthly deviation of average vehicle speeds on main roads by road and speed limit classes varies from -5 to +4 % of the annual average speed of each road and speed limit class; the speeds were highest in the summer and lowest in the winter. Weekend traffic was 1,9 to 2,4 % faster than average weekly traffic. On weekdays driving speeds were slightly lower than the average, and Friday represents the average for weekdays. Winter speeds reached a peak all year around at night and at early morning. Speeds were at their lowest in the winter at morning and at afternoon and in the summer at night and at noon. The majority of vehicles moves close to the speed limits (+/-10 km/h). Approximately 11 % of all vehicles exceeded the speed limits significantly, i.e. by more than 10 km/h. Most cases of drivers exceeding a speed limit occurred in the 80 km/h areas of motorways, where in the wintertime 62 % of drivers exceeded the speed limit and in the summertime, 75 % of driver did so. This speed limit was still exceeded by more than 10 km/h by as many as 17 % of drivers in the wintertime and 25% in the summertime.

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