French drivers fear other drivers - and Italians

Paul O'Mahony
Paul O'Mahony - [email protected]
French drivers fear other drivers - and Italians
What do Europe's drivers think of each other? File photo: Alan Cleaver

French drivers find nothing more terrifying than other French drivers, a new poll has found. Also, Spanish drivers are big on their horns, and everyone’s afraid of the Italians.


French and Germans motorists (67%) find common ground in their willingness to hurl abuse at other drivers, according to an Ipsos poll carried out on behalf of the Vinci Autoroutes foundation.

The French shared top spot with British drivers for admitting that they sometimes drove a few kilometres per hour over the legal speed limit.

French drivers were also acutely aware of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, with a chart-topping 78 percent seeing this as the biggest cause of death on the road.

For the study, Ipsos interviewed 7,000 drivers in seven countries – France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and the UK – to examine how they viewed their own driving and other people’s motor skills.

Asked to rate their own prowess behind the wheel, European drivers awarded themselves a generous 7.8 out of ten. Italians were especially happy self-satisfied, with a tidy eight out of ten.

This flew in the face of how other drivers saw Italians, with a whopping 50 percent slamming them as the least responsible motorists, way ahead of Spain (16%) in second and France (14%) in third place.

At the other end of the scale, other Europeans look on Swedes as the continent’s model drivers, with a 47 percent approval rating leaving German (26%) and British (13%) car owners trailing in the wake of their Volvo taillights.

“Traditionally Sweden is always cited as an example. Swedes benefit from a very beneficial reputation, and that’s understandable since they have the best results,” Bernadette Moreau, a spokeswoman for Vinci Autoroutes, told newspaper Le Dauphine.

Swedes fared less well on phone use, with 46 percent admitting to yapping with a phone held to their ear. Italians by contrast were the biggest users of hands-free kits at 66 percent.

And in a neat nod to age-old stereotypes, 63 percent of Spaniards admitted angrily honking the horn at drivers who irritated them, compared to 33 percent for the mild-mannered Swedes. 

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