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POLICE

French drivers tie with Greeks as most aggressive in Europe

Drivers in most of Europe say they have adopted safer and more courteous behaviour behind the wheel, with the notable exception of the French who share the top spot with the Greeks for hurling insults at other road users, polling data showed Wednesday.

French drivers tie with Greeks as most aggressive in Europe
The rules of the Arc de Triomphe roundabout are enough to make anyone angry. Photo: AFP

In a poll of self-reported behaviour, drivers in most European countries said they were less likely to resort to insults than a year ago, to lean on the car horn, to overtake on the right, or to drive too closely to the car in front of them.

However, the poll found that the French were most likely (70 percent) to insult other drivers while Greeks were most likely (47 percent) to drive on the tail of the car in front of them. 

A fifth of French drivers, compared to 16 percent in Europe, said they were “not really the same person when driving”, and judged themselves to be more nervous, impulsive or aggressive than otherwise.

READ ALSO 'Aggressive, thoughtless and arrogant' – this is how bad French drivers really are

The Spanish, at 66 percent, were quickest to jump on their car horn, according to the research conducted in 11 countries by the IPSOS polling agency for roads operator Vinci Autoroutes.

The Greeks, the study found, topped the list for dangerous road behaviour while the British came last.

Overall, 88 percent of European drivers admitted to exceeding the speed limit on occasion – one percent down from 2019, and 61 percent – a drop of three percent – to not respecting the safety distance.

The Swedes were the most likely to drive too fast or too close to another car, or to take their eyes off the road, the poll found.

Dutch drivers were the most likely – almost half of them – to overtake on the right in lanes meant for slower traffic.

On a positive note, the poll found that only two of the 14 indicators of dangerous driving behaviour were on the rise – speaking on the telephone and setting the GPS while driving.

READ ALSO Where in France are the most aggressive drivers?

A fifth of drivers – a rise of one percent from 2019 – said they had gotten out of their car to settle an argument with another road user. The Poles, at 37 percent, were most guilty of this.

According to EU data, some 22,800 road traffic fatalities were recorded in the 27 European Union countries in 2019. This was about 7,000 fewer than in 2010, representing a decrease of 23 percent.

The number fell by two percent from 2018.

While the underlying trend remains downward, progress had slowed in most countries since 2013, and the EU target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020 from 2010 would not be met, the European Commission said in a report.

“2020 still may prove to be an outlier with early indications that the number of road fatalities is likely to drop significantly in view of the measures taken to tackle coronavirus but not by enough to meet the target,” it said.

READ ALSO 'Crazy' French drivers – the real rules of la route in France

Member comments

  1. As a tourist who spends a month in Paris every September, maybe not this year though, I find Parisian drivers to actually be pretty good in giving way to pedestrians. In fact they have seldom honked at me. I can not speak for the counrty side though. Even with all the scoters, motorcycles and bikes on parisian streets I feel pretty safe walking about. And I also watch traffic. I have sen much more aggressive hostile drivers in GB. They drive all over the roads and in any way they feel like.

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POLICE

France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.

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