Starting points: Urban air quality, traffic safety and urban road maintenance
The strongest starting point for the STUD research program is a concern of environmental policy of the air quality in the city of Helsinki. In Helsinki, there are several public programmes aiming to reduce noise and improve air quality. These programmes will oblige measures of many public authorities. The street dust causes annually hundreds of premature deaths among risk groups. Studded winter tires wear out the pavement. How much are studded tires causing street dust compared to street sanding and other dust sources? Meanwhile, studs also roughen the surface of ice on the street, which is a positive factor. Would the icy streets become too slippery if there were not enough studded winter tires? What would be the optimal proportion of studded and friction tires? At the moment, Finland is one of the very
Legend: Improved winter maintenance can prevent the rising risk of fatal collisions.
few ”winter countries” that does not restrict the use of studded winter tires. Especially the winter tire policies of Norway and Sweden will be monitored carefully.
In case the proportion of friction tires in traffic would rise, the current level of traffic safety should be maintained, or even improved. More sand, salt, and ploughing? The traditional traffic safety view has emphasized technical issues regarding road maintenance, car and tire technology. However, the role of driving behaviour is crucial in traffic safety, though it is a challenging subject because of its multifactorality.
Winter tires, a Finnish invention from the 1930s, have been developed especially during the last two decades. Because of the national and European regulations, weight and amount of studs have been gradually diminished. Also, the friction features of studless winter tires have improved a lot.
All these issues will be taken into account in the STUD research program. The aim is to collect and create the latest multi-disciplinary knowledge to raise societal discussion of proper policy for winter tires in Helsinki – being aware that traffic of the capital city has wide effects on large areas around it. In case the STUD’s results indicate a need to decrease the use of studded winter tires in Helsinki down town area, STUD also aims to support the preparations for public campaigning.
Research programme has a steering group that consists of eight national, regional and municipal authorities which fund the programme. The chair is Mr. Pekka Isoniemi, the head of the maintenance office in the Helsinki Public Works Department. Two-year programme started in March 2011 and ends in May 2013. Its total budget is almost 500 000 euros. Fourteen separate studies are conducted by fourteen universities, research institutes or consultants.
Results: see the English translation of the final report.