French say they’re the best drivers but don’t rate others behind the wheel

Europe-wide poll met some stereotypes and smashed others

Liam James
Wednesday 25 May 2022 16:42 BST
‘Calm, polite and careful’: Traffic at Charles de Gaulle airport
‘Calm, polite and careful’: Traffic at Charles de Gaulle airport (Getty)

Belgians drivers are stressed, Germans are foul-mouthed, the Polish are pugnacious and the British ignore motorway rules, according to a Europe-wide motoring survey.

And the French are the most likely to believe themselves to be great drivers – and, likewise, to believe others are terrible.

The results are based on an Ipsos poll of 12,400 people in 11 European countries for the Fondation VINCI Autoroutes, the French motorway operator. The survey asked drivers to assess their on-road behaviour and that of others.

Their answers were sometimes surprising. The stereotype of level-headed German drivers was challenged by the admission that 60 per cent of them use foul language against other road users from behind the wheel.

Only the French (65 per cent) and the Greeks (67 per cent) were more given to cursing. The UK figure was 51 per cent.

The Polish were most likely to escalate road rage incidents, with 36 per cent of them saying they had left their car to pick a fight with other drivers. The Italians were next on 16 per cent, compared with only 16 per cent of Britons.

The Spanish were the most calm at the wheel, with 69 per cent of respondents saying they were relaxed drivers.

Swedes were not far behind on 62 per cent but, when annoyed, 35 per cent had tailgated a vehicle in rage.

Despite being viewed as considerate drivers, more than half of Belgians said they were stressed and prone to honking aggressively in traffic.

Belgians were also the most likely to underestimate the influence of alcohol on their driving – 19 per cent to a 9 per cent European average.

Britons were particularly bad at following motorway rules, with 43 per cent saying they overtook on the inside.

Among French respondents, 97 per cent said they were one or more of the following adjectives: vigilant, calm, polite and careful.

They took a low view of other drivers, however, with 86 per cent saying they could be irresponsible, stressed, aggressive and dangerous.

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