• France's news in English
Driving in France
French drivers urged to be more courteous to others
Photo: Trap Gosh/Flickr

French drivers urged to be more courteous to others

The Local/AFP · 16 Mar 2016, 11:55

Published: 16 Mar 2016 11:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Mar 2016 11:55 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

There's perhaps a reason why France needs a grandly titled "International Courtesy at the Wheel Week", even if there's nothing international about it.

Foreign drivers have long bemoaned the incivility of French drivers, whether it's driving so close to the car in front it looks like they are being towed or jumping red lights to cause a snarl-up at a junction. (SEE COMIC VIDEO BELOW)

And the French themselves, or at least France's road safety group, the French Association of Preventing Bad Behaviour on the Road (AFPC), seem to agree.

That's why the association is holding its 16th edition of the “International Courtesy at the Wheel” week, which essentially is aimed at improving manners on the road to make driving in France less stressful and far less dangerous at a time when road deaths are rising.

The president Régis Chomel de Jarnieu said the aim of the week is to raise awareness among the French about the dangers of not being courteous on the roads.

'Courtesy, which isn’t necessarily kindness, means behaving responsibly as an individual, which obviously helps improve safety on the roads,” said the president.

He blames the “catapult syndrome” which has taken hold in France, which he defines as “drivers being desperate to arrive even before they’ve set off".

Chomel de Jarnieu wants French drivers to leave behind their stress and adopt a mood of serenity when they get behind the wheel.

“The vast majority of road users want to be zen. Stress, pressure, danger, accidents, who wants all that? We need to change, each and every one of us, not just ‘the others’."

He pointed to a recent study that showed that 87 percent of drivers recognized that a courteous action by other drivers will encourage them too, to be more respectful to other drivers on the road.

“A simple gesture of courtesy or aggression can trigger a chain of events that will either create a pleasant climate to drive in, or make it more stressful and dangerous,” he said.

“We are all responsible.”

Last year, 3,464 people died in car accidents in France, a 2.4 percent jump from 2014. And according to AFPC, bad road manners play a big role in those statistics.

Earlier this year, The Local reported how new car stickers were available to senior citizen drivers in France, aimed at encouraging other drivers to be respectful.

The association is pleased that learner drivers will now be questioned about road courtesy in the obligatory driving theory test.

But Pierre Chasseray, the head of France's biggest motorists group, 40 Millions d'Automobilistes, believes French drivers don't need to be told to be more courteous more than any other nationality.

"I have seen the same kind of bad behaviour on the roads in the UK or in Italy," Chasseray told The Local. "It's always good to talk about positive behaviour when driving but a French motorist is no worse than an Italian one or a British, German or Spanish one."

Many expat drivers in France might be left spitting out their café au lait at that remark - as the article below suggests.

How French motorists drive expats mad

Story continues below…

Chasseray did accept however that the historic loathing French people have for rules and regulations may play a part in the way they drive.

"There is a spirit of revolution among French people. They never like rules and actively like to go against them," he said.

That would seem to include respecting red lights and no-parking signs.

The AFPC seems to agree and points to a survey that reveals how the French lament the ever-increasing restrictions on their individual liberties.

Some 68 percent of respondents to the survey pleaded for preventative measures to be introduced around driving, rather than repressive ones. But the fact that France is currently rolling out hundreds more speed cameras suggests the government has not heard their message.


The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Homeless man does a runner from France's top restaurants
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available