Four accidents occurred on the same Järva County section of the Tallinn-Tartu motorway within a few hours on Sunday. A young woman was killed in one of the crashes, and the Transport Authority said at the time it was not satisfied with deicing precautions on the stretch of road.
Those at the scene said the highway was particularly slippery at the time of the accident.
Transport Authority spokesman Andres Piibeleht said drivers should nevertheless take extra care when traveling in winter and take into account sudden changes in road conditions.
“Estonia experiences northern winters, and road conditions vary a lot between road sections,” Piibeleht said.
“Sunday’s tragic accident also occurred on a stretch of road with constant surface winds, which would make the road conditions very different from the stretches of motorway on either side of it. Even continuous sprinkles of salt often don’t help much in these circumstances ,” continued Piibeleht.
“Living in Estonia as we do, we have to take into account that we can’t drive in winter like we do in summer,” continues Piibeleht.
“We have four seasons and in winter we have to remember that the roads are going to be slippery – whether we want to or not. If it’s snowing, that means sub-zero temperatures and it’s windy – which makes summer driving on all roads guaranteed conditions become possible,” Piibeleht added.
“When temperatures fluctuate, roads can get slippery even without heavy precipitation – but freezing rain can turn large swathes of Estonia into a virtual ice rink in just a few minutes, and all heavy precipitation brings Come snowy roads. By the way, despite road maintenance vehicles are working at full capacity.”
Analysis of Sunday’s accident showed road maintenance crews assessed the situation at the Paia intersection, approximately halfway between Tallinn and Tartu, at 8.37am, and while surface snowstorm conditions were detected, the measured grip coefficient was OK. Accepted (0.36, where at least 0.3 is required).
This went on for three hours until the first notice of the particularly slippery road was received at 11.43am, when the Police and Guarding Association (PPA) were informed of an incident.
Since these unusually slippery conditions were not known in advance and there was no reason to proactively predict them, preventive measures such as sand spreaders were not deployed.
“The measurements showed that the pavement met the established requirements before the accident,” Piibeleht said.
Piibeleht added that when driving, whether it’s a 15-minute commute to work or a couple of hours’ drive to the other side of Estonia, more time must simply be considered on the road during winter.
Piibeleht added that the speed should be chosen according to the conditions, and that the maximum speed limit is just an upper limit, not a mandatory speed to be maintained at all costs.
The Transport Board states in English on its website that Estonia has two highest condition classes, referring to the busiest roads, divided into: “Divided into two – class ‘3+” and class ‘3’.” Three +” class roads 1638 km and “class 3″ roads 1649 km. These are the main national roads: Tallinn to Narva, Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa, Tallinn-Pärnu-Ikla, their auxiliary roads and some traffic Larger secondary roads.”
“Snow protection is required no later than five hours after the end of the snowfall or blizzard. The thickness of critical fluffy snow must not exceed 4 centimeters, and the thickness of critical wet snow must not exceed 4 centimeters. [must not exceed}] 2 cm. “
“De-icing is to be performed at a ‘3+’ level no later than 2 hours after the skid occurs, and a ‘3’ level no later than 4 hours after the skid occurs,” the committee added.
Piibeleht called Estonia’s road maintenance requirements “relatively similar to those of neighboring countries, including Finland”.
In Estonia’s northern neighbour, the requirements to ensure road grip depend on the distribution of roads (there are six categories), while maintenance crews have zero to seven hours to react.
Latvia’s roads, which are about the same size as Estonia’s, are divided into five categories that require three to six hours to eliminate slippage, while some roads have no standards.
Piibeleht added that the board currently has no plans to tighten the current requirements in Estonia, noting that upgrading one class in each road category would double maintenance costs.
The Transport Commission and its public and private sector partners carry out winter road maintenance on more than 16,600 kilometers of national roads, almost 4,000 kilometers of which are higher-condition roads (see above).
The council has 387 pieces of equipment for road maintenance – 214 trucks, 39 trucks and 134 tractors
Anti Palmi, head of the Transport Authority’s infrastructure and maintenance division, told ERR on Monday that anti-skid campaigns were not enough to get the job done, adding that while the council worked to prevent skids in accordance with all requirements, road and weather conditions were variable and not always road-ready. to do so at the speed expected by the author.
AS Tariston holds the road maintenance contract for Järva County. Alvar Aedma, director of road maintenance in Tariston, said the slippery road conditions that led to Sunday’s accident were caused by a snowstorm on the ground.
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