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Automatic speed enforcement in Finland

First publishedin ITS International
2010 May June
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Risto Oorni
Risto Oorni, Research Scientist at VTT Technical Research center of Finland

In 2004, Finland extended its automatic speed enforcement from 280 to 800 road kilometres. Risto Öörni of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, explains the costs and the benefits

Automatic speed enforcement in Finland is operated by the police and is based on cameras installed on poles along main roads and mobile semi-automatic speed enforcement units installed in police cars.

The system measured only point speeds until August 2010 when the first system with enforcement based on travel time measurements was put into use.

Until 2006, Finnish law required the police to identify the driver before issuing a written notification or a fine. At present, the police can issue a fine and send it to the owner of the vehicle who can then either pay the fine or appeal against it. In the latter case, the police will carry out normal pre-trial investigation for the offence.

The most common speed limits on the Finnish main roads are 80, 100 and 120 km/h. The coverage of automatic speed enforcement has been increased in the country, especially on road stretches or road links with high numbers of accidents.
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Finnish Speed Camera sign

Costs and benefits

In 2001, a governmental decision was made to extend the coverage of automatic speed enforcement from 280 to 800 road kilometres in Finland. The socio-economic benefits of the increase in enforcement by 520 road kilometres were calculated on the basis of the literature study, impact estimates (made by Mäkinen 2001), and unit cost values published by the Finnish Road Administration. The minor errors present in the original calculations (Öörni 2004) have been corrected in figures presented here.

When estimating the costs of increased enforcement, the initial investment related to roadside and back office systems was estimated to be about US$2.93 million. The annual operating costs related to increased enforcement were estimated to be of about the same magnitude as the initial investment if speeding offences less than 20 km/h over the speed limit could be handled by means of administrative process instead of criminal procedures involving the police and court system. If all speeding offences were handled according to criminal procedures, the costs were estimated to be slightly higher - US$3.6 million.

The estimate for the annual operating costs includes the operation and maintenance of roadside and back office systems, working hours needed for enforcement and costs to the police for investigating speeding offences and issuing fines or written warnings when necessary.

The increase in enforcement described above was estimated to reduce the number of the injured by 15 (15.1) and the number of fatalities by 4 (3.7) in a year. With the unit cost values published by the Finnish Road Administration (US$345,000 on average for an injury and US$2.69 million for a fatality), the annual socio-economic benefits were estimated to be about US$15.22 million.


Mäkinen, T. 2001. Poliisin liikennevalvonta liikennekäyttäytymisen ohjauskeinona, Autonkuljettajien informaatio- ja palautejärjestemät - osaraportti 1 (in Finnish).

Research report RTE 1733/01. VTT Transport and Logistics, Espoo, Finland.

Öörni, R. 2004. Eräiden joukko- ja tieliikenteen telematiikkasovellusten kannattavuus Suomen oloissa [Economic feasibility of road and public transport ITS applications in Finnish conditions].

FITS publications 35/2004.

ISBN 951-723-896-7. virtual.vtt.fi/virtual/proj6/fits/julkaisut/hanke2/FITS_TEKARI_final.pdf

The benefit-cost ratio of the system was calculated by assuming 10 years lifetime for the system and a 5 per cent discounting rate, and calculating the present values of both socio-economic benefits and costs of the system. The benefit-cost ratio for the increase in the coverage of enforcement from 280 to 800 road kilometres was found to be 3.91.

After 2004

The calculation presented above was based on the situation in 2004 when automatic speed enforcement was being extended to cover new roads and road stretches. Since then, the length of road sections equipped with automatic speed enforcement has increased and enforcement based on travel time instead of point speed has been introduced. The threshold of reacting to excess speed with mailed notifications or fines was also lowered in 2009. This has probably reduced the average and mean speed of the traffic flow further and increased the impact of enforcement on safety.

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