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Road users give a lot of valuable feedback on road maintenance all year round. However, if the feedback is given through the wrong channel, it may take a long time for it to reach its intended recipient.
Severely damaged paving, a snow-covered road in need of clearing, a traffic sign hidden behind plants, or a pallet on the road.
All of these situations should be reported quickly, but what is the right channel for giving feedback? Who is responsible for paving? What about roadside vegetation? Who should you contact if a pile of snow is preventing visibility?
“I admit, the situation is not always straightforward for drivers and road users. The responsibilities and maintenance providers vary, sometimes even within the same city, and there are several feedback channels,” says Harri Orko, the leader of Road Maintenance at YIT.
The PANU service centre directs infrastructure maintenance measures by receiving and forwarding up-to-date information to the unit responsible for a regional contract.
In cities, responsibility for the road network can be divided between several contractors, and in smaller population centres, a different contractor can be responsible for the road than for the roadside. In the case of some roads, feedback is given directly to the contractors and in others, to the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency or the municipal feedback telephone service.
If you give feedback through the wrong channel or to the wrong contractor, your feedback might be delayed or even be ignored altogether, even if it is urgent. Social media is not the right channel for giving comments on snow clearing or road maintenance.
“Unfortunately, contractors are unable to follow social media actively, and feedback does not reach its intended recipient quickly via social media,” Hyvönen says.
This is why road users are encouraged to use the official feedback channels for road maintenance. There is a simple rule of thumb that helps to find the right channel in most cases.
“If the problem is on a state-maintained, numbered road, feedback should be given to the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. If the road is located in a population centre, in the area of the city or municipality, road users should use the municipal feedback channel,” says Tuomo Ratua, Specialist in Procurement, Road Maintenance, at Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
Feedback to the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency can be given online via the Feedback Channel that contains a convenient map service for reporting the place. If the problem is urgent, you can call the road users’ telephone line, which is open around the clock on 0200 2100.
Feedback concerning city- or municipality-owned roads is given to the municipal maintenance organisation, which forwards it to the right contractor. You can find the contact information on the municipality’s website. Larger cities might have a centralised online feedback service, while some municipalities have a feedback telephone line that is open during office hours.
“Even with the rule of thumb, choosing the right channel is not always straightforward. In that case, the Feedback Channel is a good place to start, as the map service can usually specify who is responsible for maintaining the road in question,” Ratia says.
In an emergency situation on any road, the right number to call is the emergency number 112, and you should not hesitate making the call if you are in danger.
Road projects of the State of Finland cover approximately 1,000 kilometres of road, which means foremen are unable to monitor the condition of all roads at all times. Drivers and road users are often the eyes and ears of maintenance across the road network.
“Feedback from road users is crucial, it can even prevent accidents,” says Harri Hyyryläinen, Area Manager at the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Central Finland.
If you notice a potentially dangerous problem on a road, do not wait over the weekend before giving feedback.
“Sometimes, the weather can change quickly and break the surface of the road before the contractor notices it. Important traffic signs can fall over or curves can freeze over, and it is important that we are informed of these cases as soon as possible,” Hyyryläinen says.
There are a few things to bear in mind that make handling feedback quicker:
However, Hyyryläinen’s most important tip is to have patience on the road. Sometimes, contractors have to prioritise, and not all problems can be solved immediately.
“If you give feedback on the right channel, you can be certain that it will be responded to.”