Traffic and Road Conditions in Finland

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Finland, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Finnish roads are comparable to those in the United States, but the traffic rules are not.

Finland has an extensive network of highways, as well as excellent public transportation services throughout the country. A valid U.S. driver’s license may be used while visiting Finland, but drivers must be at least 18 years of age. Driving in Finland is on the right. Traffic approaching from the right has priority, even if entering a primary roadway from a secondary one; as such, stop signs are rarely used in Finland, which can cause confusion if cars converge at the same time at an intersection. In addition, it is common practice in Finland, including in large cities, to turn off traffic lights at major intersections early in the evening. Some roads in Helsinki designated as two-way are narrow, making passing difficult. Road signs use standard international symbols and Finnish text. Many urban streets have traffic lanes reserved for public transportation only. Unless otherwise noted on traffic signs, the speed limit varies from 30km/h to 40 km/h in urban areas, to 80 km/h on open roads, and 120 km/h on expressways during summer (reduced to 100 km/h during winter). Vehicles must use headlights at all times. Use of seatbelts is mandatory for drivers and all passengers. Children under 135cm (approx. 53 inches) in height must be seated in approved child or booster seats or use appropriate safety equipment as stated on the Finnish police website and the Finnish Department of Transportation fact sheets.

Public transport in Finland is good quality and is the recommended method of travel. Passenger trains, intercity buses, and air flights provide regular service over longer distances. Public transportation in urban centers includes buses, subways, trams, suburban trains, and taxis. Taxis are more expensive than in major U.S. cities. Most local residents use public transport in Helsinki as parking can be hard to find and expensive. The bus, train, and subway systems are relatively safe.

You should be aware that drunk-driving laws are strict and acceptable blood-alcohol levels are much lower in Finland than in the United States. Police strictly enforce all traffic laws and institute random roadside breath-analyzer tests. Drivers who register a 0.05 or higher blood-alcohol content are subject to immediate arrest. For more information, please review the Finnish Police website.

Driving in Finland during the winter months can be hazardous. Daylight hours are very short and drivers should be comfortable driving in darkness. Icy road conditions are common. Your vehicle must be winterized with snow tires from December to February. Engine heaters are strongly recommended. When driving at night, drivers must be alert to moose wandering onto major roadways. Striking a moose can severely damage a vehicle and even fatally injure its occupants. If you are in a car accident, it is important to have your insurance paperwork with you. In the event of an emergency, call 112 for emergency services.

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