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Home NATIONALSuicidal drivers decline essentially in 30 years
Fri, 19 Dec, 2014 01:22:26 AM
FTimes - Xinhua Report by Juhani Niinisto, Dec. 19


Earlier December, Finnish long haul truck drivers arranged a national one minute stoppage along the highways. They stepped down from their trucks for a moment of silence.

Long haul truck drivers have started the campaign focusing on the psychological impact of head-on collisions on the truck driver.

Even though truck drivers rarely get badly injured when colliding with a private car, truck drivers see themselves as victims as well due to the psychological burden caused by seeing someone killed in front of them.

The moment of silence took place soon after Finnish long haul truck drivers had created a mobile social media community.

Comprising now around 4,000 drivers, the community has replaced the use of HF radio phones used by truck drivers for communication with colleagues on the same road.

In November, an incident in which a mother killed herself and three children after driving into the front of a bus got major publicity, while last week an apparent suicidal driver crashed against a private car killing two passengers in it.

While road transport fatalities on the whole have declined, the death toll of collisions between private cars and heavy trucks shows an opposite trend in Finland, and suicidal private car drivers are part of the explanation.

Suicides distort the statistical picture of road safety.

Inkeri Parkkari, a senior specialist at the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (TRAFI), told Xinhua that there are plans now to start listing suicides separately.

No schedule has been defined for the change though.

Official statistics consider an incident as suicide only if a suicide is given as the cause of death in the death certificate signed by a medical doctor.

 However, Parkkari said that road safety investigators often find out that suicidal motives have existed even though not given as cause of death or mentioned in the police reports.

2012 was a peak year with 40 road accidents involving a suicide or attempt, and in 2013 the number was down to 22.

The European Union statistical body Eurostat defines that suicides are not listed as personal injury accidents, but if another person is injured or killed because of a suicide (or an attempt thereof) the incident will be included as an accident.

With its statistical ratio of 16 suicides per hundred thousand inhabitants in 2012, Finland was at position 21 in a World Health Organization listing.

Figures in Finland were twice as high as the average in the European Union, but the figures have declined essentially during the last thirty years.

Typically, suicidal drivers would choose a truck to knock on, but background of people colliding with trucks on purpose varies.

Not all cases get publicity. In one case that went publicity years ago, a father from a distinctly upper middle class area of Helsinki first killed his wife and two kids at home and then drove towards a truck.

Because of the privacy rules applied by the media, suspected suicides get publicity only if trains are halted due to a fatality on the tracks or road traffic is affected.

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