Finnish motor sport stars challenge young people to use seatbelts

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 11.3.2009 10.30
Press release

The Ministry of Transport and Communications and Liikenneturva, the Central Organisation for Traffic Safety in Finland, will launch a national road safety campaign together with top names in Finnish motor sport. The following racing drivers have promised their support for the campaign: Marcus Grönholm, Aki Hintsa, Mika Häkkinen, Jyrki Järvilehto, Juha Kankkunen, Heikki Kovalainen, Tommi Mäkinen and Mika Salo.

The aim of the awareness raising campaign "Elämäsi tilaisuus" ("Give your life a chance") is to address one of Finland's high-risk groups in traffic, namely young men interested in motoring. The central objective is to encourage young people to use seatbelts.

"I believe that famous racing drivers are positive role models for many young people. The young are more likely to listen to the racers' message about seatbelt use than an authority or a minister. Our aim is to speak to young people their language, to go to them and use communications channels favoured by the young",
said Ms Anu Vehviläinen, Minister of Transport, at the campaign launch in Helsinki on Wednesday, 11 March.

A majority of personal injuries in traffic are suffered by young people aged 15 to 24. Each year an average of 83 young people are killed and around 2900 injured in traffic. More than 75% of those killed in traffic are male.

The failure to use a seatbelt is clearly evident particularly in fatal car accidents involving young people. Two of three male drivers and half of female drivers who died in a car accident did not have their seatbelt fastened at the time of the accident. Accident investigation boards have estimated that the use of a seatbelt would have saved a third of the drivers and more than two thirds of the passengers.

This campaign aims at a positive influence on young people's attitudes behind the wheel encouraging them to drive safely. The use of a seatbelt and moderate speed are of vital importance in road safety.

In addition to media communications the campaign includes a national school tour in March and April that will reach thousands of young people, face-to-face. The drivers committed to the campaign will visit schools in turns and inform young people of safe driving. The school tour will reach a total of over 14,000 pupils.

Further information:

Mr Kari Jääskeläinen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Transport, tel. +358 440 581 030
Ms Taina Pieski, Communications Director, tel. +358 50 535 1574
Mr Matti Järvinen, Managing Director, Liikenneturva, the Central Organisation for Traffic Safety in Finland, tel. +358 400 424 391