Accidents during motorsport events in Seinäjoki on 15 January 2018 and in Pori on 22 June 2018
At motorsport events organised in June 2018, two accidents leading to a death occurred within one week. In one accident, an audience member died, in the other, a race official.
On the first special stage of the Pohjanmaa Rally, part of the rallycross Finnish Championships and started on 15 June 2018, a rally car drifted wide of its driving line in a right-hand curve, and its left side hit a large rock in the ditch. The speed at the moment of collision was around 110 kph. As a result of hitting the rock, the car fell over on its right side, turned sideways and started rolling on the road, rotating fully around several times, towards a number of audience members in the woods. One of the audience members did not manage to escape and died immediately after being hit by the rally car. The audience members were in a dangerous location.
During a folkrace organised in Pori on 22 June 2018, the sides of two cars hit each other after the start. As a result, one of the cars hit the earth berm of the track and was then launched by the earth berm towards the marshal post on top of the berm. The officials at the marshal post tried to run away, but one of them tripped and was hit by the car when it landed. The official died from his injuries later in a hospital. At the time of the accident, the officials were in a dangerous location.
The safety planning documents of both of these races did not fulfil the requirements of the Consumer Safety Act, in particular. The rescue plans were also scant. The plans did not properly direct the organising of audience events in such a manner that the rather obvious risks would have been identified and their realisation prevented. In both accidents, the cars lost control in a common way. Crashes are a part of motorsports, which is recognised in the rules of the sport. The rules focus on protecting the driver, so in these casese, too, the personal injuries occurred outside the car, i.e., happened to an audience member and an official who were in dangerous locations.
In the 2010s, two officials and one audience member have been killed during motorsport events. Additionally, two officials and one audience member were seriously injured. There are no statistics, so there may also be other cases. Repeated accidental deaths are not usually caused to outsiders in other kinds of hobbies or audience events.
During the special stages of the Pohjanmaa Rally, the audience could choose their viewing locations on their own nearly without restrictions. Prohibited, dangerous or allowed viewing areas had not been marked along the route. Additionally, there was confusion between the authorities and the event organisers concerning the use of the terms 'prohibited area' and 'dangerous area'. Some of the audience members were given a schematic of the dangerous areas, but many did not get one. During a folkrace in Pori, two flag marshals were standing at a flagging post where a car could clearly drift, and the post was completely unprotected. The marshal post was poorly designed, in addition to which there were insufficient instructions on safe positioning. The equipment of the officials was also deficient. In Seinäjoki, there was a delay in communicating information about the accident to the start point, and as a result, several rally cars were sent on the special stage after the accident had occurred. However, both motorsport events were prepared to begin rescue operations and emergency medical services with the resources obtained by the race organiser.
The Safety Investigation Authority recommends the following:
• The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes must show initiative and present the need for the simplification and streamlining of the requirements of the authorities to the relevant ministries and authorities. In connection to this, Tukes must plan what kind of co-operation is required for the creation of an event database. The purpose of the database is to guide event organisers in entering the basic and safety planning details of the event into the database, allowing the information to be distributed to the different authorities.
• The national governing body of motorsports, AKK-Motorsport ry, must update the rules and templates for the different motorsport events so that the motorsport events are planned in a manner that identifies and reduces the risks of that precise event, and in a manner that the planning and the documents meet the requirements of the relevant regulations. The planning must be carried out well in advance of the event.
• The national governing body of motorsports, AKK-Motorsport ry, must issue instructions to the organisers of rallycross events in such a manner that the audience is directed to marked viewing areas and that there are a sufficient number of such viewing areas in locations interesting to the audience. Clear, multichannel communications must be used to express that viewing the race elsewhere is dangerous. The audience must be clearly advised of the dangers related to rallycross. The final lead car must check the audience locations.
• The national governing body of motorsports, AKK-Motorsport ry, must prepare a description for the folk racing rules of what is a safe marshal post and how it should be located and inspected. Requirements on the qualifications, orientation, equipment and minimum age of the officials are also required.
• The national motorsports governing body, AKK-Motorsport ry, must prepare a procedure for collecting and publishing accident data and numbers, and define objectives and measures for reducing the number of accidents.