Traffic camera. Photo: Mikko Uro.

Helsinki installs new speed cameras to improve traffic safety

The City of Helsinki strives to improve traffic safety in the city by increasing automatic traffic enforcement. The City of Helsinki Urban Environment Committee considered a proposal on 6 November for 70 new traffic enforcement cameras, or speed cameras, to be installed in the city. The goal is to install an average of 14 new speed cameras annually in 2020–2024. Currently automatic traffic enforcement is carried out with 4 speed cameras placed on Helsinki streets. 

Automatic traffic enforcement allows the authorities to monitor driving speeds and red light running. Automatic traffic enforcement can also be used to monitor the use of bus lanes, in order to improve the flow and functionality of public transport. 

Traffic has been enforced with the help of speed cameras on the streets of Kaivokatu and Mäkelänkatu since 2008 and on Mechelininkatu and Mannerheimintie since 2012. Experiences with automatic traffic enforcement have been positive: accidents have been reduced at all sites after the installment of speed cameras. 

Speed cameras to be placed at accident sites

Helsinki has drafted principles for the placement of speed cameras in collaboration with the police. The principles are accompanied by a plan for the sites of 70 new cameras. The underlying principle is to locate cameras throughout the city in ways that they produce the maximum benefit for traffic safety: it is proposed that automatic traffic enforcement should be installed at sites with a high occurrence of accidents and where residents have expressed needs for traffic enforcement. 

In accordance with the principles of locating speed cameras, cameras should primarily be placed on busy main streets with speed limits of no less than 40 kilometres per hour. The placement of speed cameras will also take into account the average numbers of pedestrians and, for example, the vicinity of schools. The exact sites of speed cameras will be defined during further planning stages. 

The cost of one automatic traffic enforcement site is estimated to be approximately 15,000 euros, so the total cost of the proposed camera sites would be roughly one million euros. The installment of speed cameras will be carried out by the City of Helsinki, while the police are responsible for the procurement of cameras and traffic enforcement. 

“The number of traffic accident victims must come down in Helsinki, and this project provides the tool to do that. Traffic enforcement will be available at the exact places and in such forms that provide protection to people,” says Chief Inspector Jarkko Lehtinen of the Helsinki Police Department.