Providing traffic information for safer and smoother traffic
Published on 20.8.2021
Last edited on 13.9.2021
Have you ever wondered how digital road signs are always able to warn you about slippery roads or congestion ahead? Or how variable speed limits immediately appear in the event of an accident? And where do radio, newspapers and television get their information about traffic during public holidays or other exceptional circumstances?
Finland has plenty of highways and they are definitely put to good use. The country has no less than 78,000 kilometres of highways, on which people drive a total of 36,000 million kilometres per year. In order to ensure that traffic runs as smoothly as possible on our main roads, Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre works around the clock to provide traffic information. But what exactly goes on at Fintraffic’s 24/7/365 Traffic Management Centre? This is your chance to take a peek behind the scenes, as we interview Marko Lassi, a traffic operator at Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre.
Traffic safety ensured with a wide range of technologies
In 2020, an average of 1 265 vehicles were driving on Finnish highways each day, with an average of 4 575 vehicles per day in Uusimaa, 1 843 in Kanta-Häme and 1 712 in Päijät-Häme (per km). The Traffic Management Centre ensured that all of these kilometres were driven in safe, smooth-flowing traffic.
“At Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre, everything revolves around having a real-time situational picture of traffic. This is obtained not only from our partners and road users, but also via continuous feeds from roadside telematics. A total of about 20,000 traffic-control, weather and road-condition devices provide us with real-time exciter data from main roads all across Finland. For example, the road network is equipped with a variety of sensors that measure traffic volumes and speeds, and snow and ice build-up on road surfaces. Road weather stations also collect observations about rain and snow volumes all across the country,” says Marko Lassi.
The Traffic Management Centre uses all of this data to control the variable speed limits, digital warning signs and information boards that help to keep traffic as safe and smooth as possible.
“For example, if our roadside sensors detect that the overall speed of traffic is slowing down or that there are an exceptional number of vehicles on the road, the system will suggest that we lower the speed limit or issue congestion alerts. Similarly, the system will suggest lowering speed limits if a road weather station detects exceptionally heavy rain or a blizzard that will cause difficult driving conditions,” says Marko Lassi.
Disruption bulletins in many channels
Every year, Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre issues 10,000 traffic bulletins through a broad variety of communication channels in both traditional and social media. Traffic bulletins are also sent to the Traffic Situation service and, via the Digitraffic open interface, to app developers for use in a variety of other services. Data produced by Fintraffic can also be found in navigators and international map services.
Accidents and bad driving conditions are the most common causes of disruptions in traffic. In the summer, roadworks or special transports may also lead to exceptional traffic arrangements.
“In addition to the 10,000 traffic bulletins sent by the Traffic Management Centre each year, we also answer calls to Fintraffic’s Road User Line, to which people can report acute circumstances endangering road users. We receive a total of almost 150,000 calls a year. We’re responsible for ensuring that information about exceptional circumstances and disruptions in traffic is received by all those who require it: authorities, such as the police and emergency rescue services, and other operators, such as roadside and maintenance contractors,” says Marko Lassi.
Fintraffic’s Traffic Management Centre plays a particularly important role in the event of an accident or similar disruption on the road.
“This usually launches a chain of events in which the Traffic Management Centre not only issues traffic bulletins, but also handles changes to digital signage, information boards and other warning signs, and provides any additional details to the police and emergency rescue services. The Traffic Management Centre is also responsible for contacting contractors when cleaning or road repairs are required at the scene of the accident,” says Lassi.
What does traffic on Finland’s main roads look like right now? To find out, go to Fintraffic’s Traffic Situation service at https://liikennetilanne.fintraffic.fi. Here you’ll find information about disruptions in traffic, roadworks, road condition cameras, road weather stations, traffic volumes and much more. The app can also be downloaded for free from the Play Store or App Store.