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Finland: roadside checks to test the technical state of motorcycles

There is no mandatory periodic inspection of motorcycles and mopeds in Finland, but the authorities have recently started roadside checks to learn more about the technical state of motorcycles and mopeds.

In Finland, patrols of the traffic police sector of the Eastern Uusimaa Police and the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom organised two joint motorcycle and moped surveillance raids last week. The roadside checks were carried out as mobile checks, as well as from fixed locations.

Traficom gathered information about the technical condition of motorcycles and mopeds in general. Police motorcycle and car equipment were used for surveillance. During the surveillance raids, fifty motorcycles and 25 mopeds were checked. Two fines were imposed on motorcyclists, three traffic violation fees and 29 notices. As for mopeds, the situation was a little worse. Nine fines, five driving bans and two traffic fines were imposed on the riders, and we made 17 surveillance reports, says inspector Katri Lehti from the traffic police: “An inspection report means that we found defects in the two-wheelers or that they were in violation of the regulations in terms of structure or condition”, says Lehti.

“Roadworthiness checks aim to improve road safety. This type of control has not been done before and for this reason we have no information about the condition of the motorcycles. The surveyors were technical experts under the control of the police. On the basis of moped raids carried out by the police in the past, it is known that the mopeds are often tuned or have technical faults”, says Traficom’s leading expert Timo Ojala.

According to the information Finnish motorcyclists’ organisation SMOTO received, Traficom has been interested in the subject and these roadside checks and Traficom’s upcoming report on motorcycle accidents show the direction in which things are to be taken. Traffic safety for motorcyclists has improved and there has been a clear downward trend in accidents in the 21st century in relation to the number of motorcycles. Based on the data collected from accidents, the technical condition of the motorcycle has very rarely (< 1%) been the cause of the accident. Based on the results of the control strikes, one could imagine otherwise. It should be examined what kind of shortcomings have been observed in the supervision and what their effect on the traffic safety of the vehicle really is.

Roadside monitoring has been known to be an effective way to monitor the condition of vehicles, and SMOTO supports it instead of periodic inspections. There is no mandatory periodic inspection of motorcycles and mopeds in Finland. The inspection would require a change in the law, and it is not within Traficom’s jurisdiction. The EU Commission is about to issue a proposal to amend the inspection directive during Q3/2023. The presentation will probably propose mandatory periodic inspections for all motorcycles and possibly mopeds as well. That’s when the matter will be processed in the EU institutions. However, it would take a long time before the directive came into force in the member states.

SMOTO has worked purposefully to prevent periodic inspections of motorcycles. We are continuing to work in this area and it would seem from there that soon there will be ‘busy years’ around the subject again. The situation is very similar to the handling of the current inspection directive in the EU in 2012. The end result was then that an exception was made to the directive, according to which member states can implement alternative measures to improve traffic safety. A few member states, including Finland, used this exception, and Denmark chose the name roadside inspections as a replacement measure for the inspection.

Written by Wim Taal

Sources: & SMOTO

Top photograph courtesy of Morgan Kane

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