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2015 EUROPEAN BAROMETER OF RESPONSIBLE DRIVING

The VINCI Autoroutes Foundation for responsible driving and the Ipsos research institute published the results of the 5th Barometer of Responsible Driving on the eve of the busiest winter holiday weekend in France. First taken in France 2011 and extended to include other European countries in 2014. Each year, this study provides an annual snapshot or drivers’ habits and behavioural changes over time.

EUROPEAN-BAROMETER-OF-RESPONSIBLE-DRIVING

First finding: optimism about combatting road violence still predominant but flagging
A majority of Europeans (55%) still consider that the number of people killed could be significantly lowered in the coming years but optimism is waning in all countries surveyed in 2014, except United Kingdom (51%, up 2% on 2014). The French are still the most confident about the potential for improvement (61%), after the Spanish (69%) and Belgians (65%), while the Germans (42%, down 3%), Greeks (43%) and the Poles (47%) are clearly the most pessimistic.

Second finding: drivers still consider that the other drivers are the problem
When asked about their driving abilities, Europeans are quick to give themselves a very good individual score: 7.7/10 average. When asked to describe their own attitude behind the wheel, almost all European drivers use at least one positive adjective (98%): “attentive” (77%), “calm” (54%) or “courteous” (26%). Only 9% admit they are “stressed”, 3% consider themselves “aggressive” and 1% describe themselves as “irresponsible”. On the other hand, when referring to their fellow citizens’ driving behaviour, they are particularly severe: they describe them as “irresponsible” (44% of Europeans and 65% of Poles), “stressed” (38% of Europeans and 58% of Swedes), “aggressive” (30%) and even “dangerous” (26% of Europeans and 40% of Greeks).

Third finding: risky behaviour on the rise everywhere in Europe
The most widespread risky behaviour reported includes exceeding the speed limit by a few km/h (91% of Europeans); failure to keep a safe distance with the vehicle ahead (65% of Europeans and 77% of French); forgetting to indicate when overtaking or turning (58% of Europeans); or failing to slow down around worksites (55% of Europeans and 68% of Belgians). Even more disturbing: 22% of Europeans forget to attach their seat belt when driving; 49% of Greek drivers. In this area, the French are the most disciplined as 91% systematically wear their seat belt.

Fourth finding: driver rudeness still widespread
56% of Europeans (and 74% of Greeks) admit they swear at other drivers; 47% (and 64% of Spaniards) sound their horn excessively; 32% deliberately tailgate drivers who annoy them; and 32% (43% of Dutch) overtake on the right (or left in the UK) on the motorway. Less frequent but still a cause for concern, 15% of Europeans (25% of Poles) get out of their vehicle to argue with another driver.

Fifth finding: despite increased awareness of the risks, drivers are still acting irresponsibly
More than 1 out of 10 European drivers (12%) admit they drive when over the authorised limit even though they do not feel the effect of the alcohol they have consumed; the corresponding figure is 29% for Greeks and 25% for Belgian drivers. This is paradoxical given that the great majority of the Europeans in the sample consider that driving when over the limit is the most risky driving behaviour (59%).
While driver distraction (especially using a mobile phone when driving) is given as the second cause of road fatalities and the third on motorways, 51% of European drivers admit that when driving they telephone using a hands-free kit and 35% without a hands-free kit. At the same time, more than one quarter of drivers (26%) say they send and read texts or emails while driving even though they rank this behaviour as the third most dangerous of all driver behaviour.
Finally, 69% of drivers think no one should drive when tired. Yet, 39% of the respondents admit to having driven even though they felt tired. This behaviour naturally affects driver ability: one out of four (25%) Europeans think they may have fallen asleep for a few seconds when driving; 15% have drifted into the emergency lane or onto the hard shoulder because of a moment’s distraction or drowsiness; and 6% admit to having had a minor incident or accident due to fatigue.