This strategy for the transport of dangerous goods is the first comprehensive strategic plan that the Ministry of Transport and Communications has drawn up to deal with the whole field of transport of dangerous goods. It covers the period 2006-2015 and deals with the situation in Finland today, the challenges and trends foreseen, and the main areas in which the Ministry will focus its efforts in the coming years. The goals have been set out in the form of a "prism of results”, in terms of impacts, operational effectiveness, productivity and quality, human resources and well-being.
The primary strategic aim is to ensure functional and safe logistics chains for goods classified as dangerous goods serving industry, trade and citizens. A primary objective of the Ministry’s TDG activities is to ensure that international agreements and EU directives are implemented into Finnish legislation and operators are informed of any changes.
The Ministry’s aims and objectives are depicted in detail in the prism of results on the right. When setting the goals, the aims and objectives set by the administrative sector’s civil service departments and institutions’ have been observed, as have overarching and broader policy objectives and transport policy lines. When setting the objectives, particular attention has been paid to ensuring that operative challenges of the field have been considered. Policy targets are defined to efficiently serve the operators in the sector.
There are following conclusions in the field of road transport:
Finland is a country of long distances and the proportion of road transport of all transports is high. In 2002, TDG by road was 12.3 million tons, which is 4% of the whole volume of all goods transported by road. Road transport is on the increase and most transported dangerous goods are liquid fuels or other class 3 flammable liquids (63%). In 2002, about 1.7 billion ton kilometres of road transport of dangerous goods took place. The average transport distance was 137 km. On roads most of the dangerous goods are transported by tank vehicles (88%). Transport of dangerous goods is supervised by the police as a part of general monitoring of heavy traffic. Surveillance and control duties are also carried out by the customs and border guards. In 2005, a significant part of the recorded offences related to issues with securing the cargo and with special equipments, such as fire extinguishers. All heavy vehicles are inspected annually. Currently 25% are rejected, which is an indication of the ruthless efficiency of the inspections. In addition, annual TDG inspections are required for vehicles transporting explosive materials and tank vehicles. The tanks used for transport are inspected regularly by authorised inspection bodies in accordance with the type of tank, a typical inspection period being every three years. Safe and professional road transport is promoted through training all persons engaged in TDG in accordance with the requirements of their duties. Specific competence requirements are in force for both drivers and the safety advisers responsible for documents and safe operations. Every person driving a TDG cargo over the limited quantity has to have an ADR-certificate. Both the ADR-certificate and the Safety Advisor Competence are renewed every five years. In Finland, there are about 30,000 persons registered with a current ADR-certificate, and the number of approved Safety Advisors is at the time of writing 1,118.
Challenges and future trends
The haulage sector is highly competitive and professional drivers are hard to find. The interest in working in road transport is decreasing and, according the entrepreneurs, the margins are small due to tightening transport agreements and terms of delivery. Typical offences and unhealthy practices in the transport sector include the violation of the driving and rest period requirements, overloading, unrealistically tight time schedules and speeding. The incomplete understanding of the consignee relating to their responsibilities sets challenges, for example for the safe delivery of heating oil. Increase of traffic volume is in itself already a threat to safety. Ever tighter schedules of TDG piece goods assignments is a specific challenge due to the large group of sending, receiving and transporting operators. A shortage of rest and stop sites and traffic control points suitable for checking TDG vehicles is a problem, particularly near the larger towns.
In addition to the previously mentioned strategic TDG goals, the Ministry of Transport and Communications considers transport of piece goods a special challenge and has focused on this. The Ministry will continue to invest more into providing and more efficiently target dissemination of information to those operators most needing it. In accordance with the Ministry’s Traffic Safety Program, the heavy vehicle traffic control performances are monitored in conjunction with surveillance data from the police, customs and border guards. In order to achieve the Ministry’s vision, the decrease in number and minimisation of consequences of accidents involving professional transport parties will receive special attention. The Ministry will in particular enhance cargo securing through lobbying for the harmonisation of regulations across the EU area. The Ministry will also evaluate the potential benefits and costs (implementation and maintenance) to be gained from implementing various registers such as a Safety Advisor register.