Reindeer can run at speeds of 37– 50 mph (60–80 km/h) but all too often they can be found meandering across and along roadways in groups, and that can cause distressing accidents. We’ve been working on an app to prevent that
To many people, reindeer are the fictional creatures that pull Santa’s sleigh, but to Laplanders, they are a way of life, with over one-third of Finland dedicated to herding the freely roaming animal.
HERE has been working with the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Lapland (ELY), the Finnish Reindeer Herders Association, Finnish Lapland Center for Economic Development and Paikkatieto Online Oy to reduce vehicle-reindeer collisions by 50 per-cent by 2020, and a reindeer alert app will soon be launched to help reach that goal.
Despite Fell Lapland being sparsely populated with people, reindeer account for 4,000 accidents per year — 30 per day at peak times. Beyond the upsetting experience of hitting a reindeer and its young, these accidents are also costly to the local economy. Compensating herders and repairing a vehicle costs on average €10,000.
In a previous blog post, we discussed reindeer with Jaakko Ylinampa, Director at (ELY), who explained their curious nature. Ylinampa said that reindeer are seldom startled by cars or people. They are generally relaxed, move very slowly and are rarely alone. These characteristics are their downfall on the roads, but also the reason why an in-app alert is possible. Animals that cross the road quickly would be gone by the time the next vehicle comes along. But reindeer linger and could be on the road for 30 minutes or more. So if a driver spots one reindeer, it’s likely to be an ongoing risk to other drivers.
Reindeer alert app
With the Reindeer Coop app, natives and tourists in Fell-Lapland will be able to turn to their smartphones and location technology from HERE to mitigate the problem. The application enables drivers to report sightings of the animal and in turn, alerts other drivers to reindeer nearby. The app will also provide safety-related information about accidents and poor visibility.
The app supports both English and Finnish languages and the beta version can be tested by Android users in Fell-Lapland now. Just sign into your HERE account, then request to be a tester via the Finnish Play Store. Users can leave the testing program at any time and re-install the app once it’s public, later this year.
Next time you’re driving in Fell-Lapland and see reindeer on the road, just tap on the dedicated reindeer button in the app to activate the HERE location technology and help avoid more traumatic reindeer accidents.