In motorsports, velocity and the mass of the vehicle and passengers create powerful forces (kinetic energy). These powerful forces can cause serious accidents. You need to take into account the direction and magnitude of these forces in the assessment and management of risks. In particular, the placement of spectators and the security requirements for them are determined on the basis of this information. Motorsports events and activities can be organised on land, water and ice. The surveillance of aviation is the duty of the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority Traficom.
The Consumer Safety Act obligates all parties to have accurate and sufficient knowledge of their activities. This means that voluntary workers and other volunteers must have the competence required by their duties and must receive an orientation to the safety practices in use.
Documents in order
A safety document must be drawn up for all motorsports events, because the activity always entails a significant risk to participants and bystanders. The document must describe the contents and risk management of the activity. Update documents and plans at least once a year or for each individual event in the case of one-off events. Additional updates may be required on the day of the event if, for example the conditions or other risks have changed since the plan was drawn up.
A track or route may have a general track or route plan that defines the procedures and measures for normal and continuous use. Prepare separate plans for competitions and events deviating from normal use that take into account the nature and scale of the activities, as well as their arrangements and place of performance. You can combine different safety plans into a single plan, as long as you specify the above-mentioned aspects and activities unambiguously. For example, you can combine the rescue plan required by the Rescue Act with a possible first aid plan (see template).
Motorsport events are often also public events governed by the Assembly Act, and the police usually require a notification regarding their safety and the maintenance of order. If necessary, the police may also issue orders, such as requiring a safety or traffic plan.
Identify the risks
You must identify, define and assess dangerous parts of the track or route. Marking these on the map can help with gaining an overall picture of the risks. The risks, their causes and the measures for preventing them must be recorded in sufficient detail. At the same time, you must specify whether the section in question will be designated as off limits to the public, how the area will be cordoned off and how the spectators will be prevented from entering the area. Personnel who can and are able to intervene in activities in the area and the movement of spectators must be posted in areas defined as off limits. Such personnel must also be equipped with means of communicating potential hazards to the competition officials.
In motorsports and public events, the main organiser is responsible for the overall safety of the event even if that organiser purchases or acquires services from subcontractors. The main organiser must also ensure the safe coordination of the various activities and provide subcontractors with information on any risks posed by other operators so that they know to prepare for them.
Due to the nature of the sport, first aid and response capabilities must be higher than at a standard public event. In practice, this may mean preparing for a rescue from a vehicle, extinction of a fire and treatment of serious injuries. Furthermore, there is the possibility of situations with multiple patients depending on the sport and activities, and you must prepare for such situations appropriately. Separate first aid capabilities need to be arranged for the competitors and the public if necessary.
Reporting accidents and dangerous situations
Like in other services, serious incidents and accidents during motorsports must be reported to Tukes. Such incidents include, e.g. events that are exceptional to the sport and dangerous situations, in which the spectators and bystanders have been at risk.
Accident records or accident file
The service provider must keep a record of accidents and dangerous situations and use these records to improve safety. Marking events on a map is good practice, because the location of an incident can help explain its causes and consequences and its connection to earlier risk assessments.
Oral information does not meet the law’s requirement for keeping accident records and using them to improve safety.
Sufficient information must be recorded of each event, including the driver and other participants, discipline, vehicle, date, conditions and deficiencies in the procedures followed, so that conclusions can be drawn from these and practices changed in order to eliminate risks. Possible causes for incidents can also be discovered from this information.
Pay special attention to these issues
Design protective measures according to the mass, acceleration and velocity of the equipment used, as well as any parts that may come loose and fly from the vehicle. Take the safety of the driver in crash situations into account when planning protective measures. This is particularly important in motorcycling where the driver is not protected by the vehicle. The primary purpose of protective measures is to ensure the safety of the spectators and bystanders.
A safe distance must be maintained from obstacles, other people and property. The stopping distance on the surface and with the equipment in question must be known in order to calculate the sufficient safety distance at the speed in question. Safety areas must be defined in the track safety plan.
The surface material and shape have a significant effect on slowing down the velocity of vehicle and any detached parts. On the other hand, the surface material (asphalt, grass, sand) and conditions (dry, wet, ice) as well as the shape of the surface have a significant impact on the safety of drivers who fall from their vehicles and skid on the track.
Difference in altitude
Protective measures can make use of differences in altitude depending on the vehicle and the slope of the surface. A gentle ascent will slow vehicles, but the required distance is long. A downward slope towards the spectators or bystanders increases the need for protection.
A crash barrier that prevents people being run over
The barrier must be able to withstand a vehicle collision and absorb collision energy so that the vehicles used in the event cannot pass through the barrier. There must be a safe distance between the barrier and spectators so that a potential impact is not transferred from the barrier to the people.
An access barrier that prevents, for example a child or an intoxicated person from running into to the show or driving area
A flagged line is not a sufficient access barrier. Use at least a light fence (Vepe) or the equivalent. The routes of vehicles moving among people, for example to the pit area or competition site, must also be cordoned off. Spectator areas must be defined in the track safety plan.
Trajectory and direction
Danger zones depend greatly on the direction and trajectory of the vehicle. The risk is generally lower on the inside than on the outside of corners. Take the direction and trajectory of vehicles into account in the placement of spectators and officials.
Protective embankment or padding
A protective embankment or padding must be added to barriers to protect the driver from danger.
Sufficient safety measures must be defined in the plans of activities performed on ice, particularly with regard to the strength and thickness of the ice. Limits for conditions in which the activity cannot continue need to be defined in particular. The thickness of the ice must be checked with measurements taken at least on a daily basis or with the frequency and scope required by the activity. A single point of measurement will not suffice for an ice track.
The effects of snow on safety, e.g. when the snow changes from powdery to icy, must be taken into account and monitored continuously in winter sports.
Protective measures can consist of one or more individual measures, as long as they are effective and sufficient for the activity in question. Multiple simultaneous protective measures must be used if the kinetic energy is high and a buffer zone alone will not suffice.
Good safety practices
Control measures are actions taken to control conditions and activities in order to improve safety. Possible control measures include car accessories, providing information, training, practice, verifying experience, etc.
Control measures also include guidance and instruction as well as various restrictions, such as a speed limit. Speed can be limited with a traffic sign, chicane, barrier or bump, but also through mechanical or electronic means.
The maintenance and repair of the track can also be control measures. Preventing objects and substances from entering the track with, for example structural solutions is a control measure for removing and preventing hazards. First aid and response can also be considered as a control measure aimed at the consequences of accidents.
The track safety plan is one part of the safety document, which constitutes a major control measure. The plan presents the activities on a track map and defines the hazards, danger zones, safe areas, spectator areas as well as the necessary protective and control measures. Informing spectators of safety issues is a crucial control measure for ensuring their safety.
Vehicles must be equipped with appropriate tyres for their expected speed and target speed. Comparing tyre properties with vehicle and track information is simple and the information is available from public sources.
If the vehicle’s speed will exceed the typical top speed for the vehicle, it must be equipped with roll bars to protect the driver. For older models, this could mean adding separate structures to the vehicle. The safety of drivers racing at high speeds must be ensured with roll cages and a safety net or other equivalent means.
If the typical top speed of the vehicle will be exceeded, the vehicle’s chassis, suspension and other support structures must be capable of withstanding the target acceleration, speed and mass. Vehicles must be capable of withstanding the planned activities and conditions.
Drivers must always be equipped with helmets appropriate to the activity and target speed. Furthermore, drivers must always wear at least a long-sleeve shirt and trousers, appropriate footwear and gloves.
Spectator and stand safety
All areas in the vicinity of the track are dangerous for spectators if protective measures and control measures are not employed. The organiser must designate permitted and prohibited areas for spectators and see to their markings and signage. Designate areas that involve a significant danger to spectators as prohibited. Spectators must be informed of such areas at least with appropriate cordoning and markings. Prohibited and especially dangerous areas must also be monitored if required by spectator behaviour. The size and, e.g. distance from the road of the prohibited areas must be assessed according to the risks.
If the lane is straight and the spectators will not be placed at the end of the straight but only on the sides, lighter protective measures can be employed at the end than along the straight. In practice, however, there must be a sufficient access barrier even at the end so that people cannot enter the track.
Spectator protection can be lighter in areas where the audience is still in the acceleration area, i.e. behind or directly to the side of the starting area as well as at a 45-degree angle in front of the vehicle. You must still take the mass of the vehicle or parts that come loose from it, even at low speeds, into account in the protective measures required for the activities.
Similarly, the need for protection may be lower if the vehicles are light and slow, in which case an access barrier may be an adequate protective measure. You must still take into account the mass and other forces, such as mechanical energy, power, torsion, acceleration and centrifugal force.
Possible gates through the barriers must be monitored or equipped with locks. Signs prohibiting the entry of unauthorised persons into the track or exhibition area must also be posted. This is also relevant with regard to the definition of the closed area for purposes of motor insurance. As a rule, “closed area” is interpreted narrowly, and vehicles must have motor insurance. Visit the Traffic Accident Board’s website for more information.
Crash barriers, access barriers and protective embankments must be designed not to cause any danger to drivers or others. For example, using unpadded wooden panels will pose a danger if they can be splintered by an impact. This is particularly true for disciplines in which the drivers are not wearing safety belts.
Providing information to the customer
Spectators must be provided with the relevant safety information about the motorsport event in advance at the place of purchase, such as on a website and at the cash desk, as well as at the location of the potential risk. Such information includes permitted spectator areas and particularly dangerous areas (prohibited to spectators). High-pitched sounds, noise, vibration and exhaust fumes in indoor areas, for example, may also be issues that consumers must be warned about in advance.
Drivers need to be provided with sufficient information about the track and performance. Their sufficient skill level and the suitability of the vehicles and equipment must be ensured at the same time.
Karting and other light motorsports
The Tukes guide for promoting the safety of karting can also be used for other lighter motorsports, where applicable. Such sports include, for example, “Lokari” small car, mini moped, electric moped and electric quad bike tracks or other similar sports and tracks where the velocities, forces and masses involved are similar to karting.
Karting in slippery conditions is possible if the protective measures are sufficient to ensure safety and also cover special features such as cold weather and spiked tyres. The company is responsible for increasing safety to an adequate level for the activities.
Moped practice tracks
A moped practice track may not pose a danger to its users or bystanders. Read the service provider’s obligations and take the requirements of, e.g. the Consumer Safety Act into account.
Contact the sport federations for a safe start to your hobby
AKK-Motorsport ry. www.autourheilu.fi
Suomen Moottoriliitto ry. www.moottoriliitto.fi
Harrastemoottoriurheilun Keskusjärjestö ry. https://harrastemoottoriurheilu.fi/en/
Suomen Purjehdus ja Veneily ry. https://spv.fi/kilpaurheilu/kilpaveneily/