Finland 24/7: Part Two
DUI, SMS, and SEX, DRUGS, & ALCOHOL
It was still dark at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, when Senior Constable Staffan Söderström from the Helsinki unit of the traffic police took out his breathalyser kit and flagged down the first car in the morning traffic.
The random inspection of all vehicles passing through the junction of Tattariharjuntie and Kankiraudantie in Malmi saw a total of 216 motorists politely asked to blow into the little plastic disposable straw in the space of around half an hour.
In four cases, the needle on Söderström's hand-held breathalyser gave a little tell-tale twitch, but the figure did not exceeed the 0.5 ppm of blood alcohol that is the threshold for a DUI charge, and the drivers were permitted to continue on their way.
In the course of an average day, the police, the Customs, or the Border Guard will record 1,183 crimes of one description or another. Ninety-one will be assaults.
An average of 58 persons each day of the year - more than 20,000 annually - will be caught for DUI or aggravated DUI, where the threshold is 1.2 ppm.
Helsinki resident Ella Partia, 18, sent her friend Anton a text message on Wednesday to say that she was having her picture taken by a Helsingin Sanomat photographer.
According to her own rough estimate, Paria says she sends around five SMS messages each day.
Just before Christmas, she plans to send Xmas greetings in the form of SMS messages to around 20 relatives and close friends.
Some of the most important of them may also get a multimedia message with a photo attached. Ella will also send some friends a real Christmas card by post.
Finns tap in and send an average of 11 million SMS messages on their mobile phones each day.
In the south coast town of Kotka, 31-year-old Mika Kautovuo and 25-year-old Irina Titova spend Wednesday morning in romantic fashion alone together at home.
In the course of any given day, some 600,000 adult Finns engage in sexual intercourse.
According to the raw figures from Statistics Finland, the incidence of love-making means just under five times a month for every adult in the country.
Professor Osmo Kontula, who has specialised in sexual behaviour within the population at large, has noted that the Finns' sex-life is not all that active.
Kautovuo and Titova say that they are "above average".
Urho, a black labrador of two and a half years, is eagerly going about his morning business from 9 a.m. on Wednesday, sniffing packages at a courier company's premises in the cargo area of Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, in search of illegal consignments containing narcotics or other drugs.
In the course of a normal day, the Customs postal clearing office will throw up an average of seven packages containing drugs or medicines or controlled substances.
On Wednesday, one consignment sent by private courier also showed up with illicit contents in this department. Travellers through the airport, on the other hand, were not encountered bringing in illegal substances.
An average of 54 crimes and offences involving controlled substances - possession and dealing - are discovered each day in Finland.
One substance that is legal but controlled, at least in terms of access to it, is alcohol. Finns drink a good deal of it.
Ville Vanhala from Pyhtää, east of the capital, went out for a morning walk to the shops with his dog Fobba.
In addition to some cartons of yoghurt, tomatoes, orange juice, a loaf of rye bread, and a loaf of sweet Christmas bread (with raisins and cardamom flavouring), he bought six cans of medium-strength beer.
On his way home, Vanhala stopped for a moment and drank one of the cans while Fobba watched.
He says he drinks an average of two or three beers on weekdays. On a weekend evening, he might get through five bottles or cans.
On any given day, an average of 1.1 million litres of medium-strength beer (of the sort one can buy from supermarkets) will be drunk in Finland, along with 179,000 litres of wine, and 82,000 litres of spirits.
Some days, for example at Midsummer and New Year, these numbers are comfortably eclipsed.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 22.12.2011
More on this subject:
Finland 24/7: a statistical snapshot of where we are
Finland 24/7: Part Three
RIITTA VAINIO / Helsingin Sanomat