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Good driving: the French contradiction

94% of PACA drivers have something negative to say about their fellow drivers, while just 23% admit any guilt of their part.It’s probably one of the biggest gripes expats have against their French contemporaries: bad driving. From a lack of respect for other road users to downright safety concerns, there’s plenty we can find to moan about, but curiously, while the French feel the same as we do about each other, barely any of them are willing to admit any guilt on their part…

A read of the new driving behaviour study by IPSOS offers a similar experience to driving on the roads of the French Riviera; you’re shocked, confused and straight up concerned. Nine out of 10 French drivers said they have felt scared of another driver’s behaviour in the last 12 months and drivers in the PACA region are the worst. 

They languish at the bottom of the table when it comes to safety rankings from the rest of France; just 3% of those interviewed said drivers in this region are the most responsible on the road while 51% said they were the least responsible. Looking inwards, PACA drivers consider themselves to be the most responsible in the country.

94% of PACA drivers had something negative to say about their fellow drivers - irresponsible, dangerous, stressed or aggressive - making them the most critical in the country, but only 23% used negative terminology when describing their own driving.

92% of PACA drivers admitted to speeding; 84% said they frequently failed to respect safety distances (more than three quarters of people didn’t know that a vehicle travelling at 130km/h needs at least 170m to come to a safe stop); 70% said they hurled insults at other drivers; 62% said they forget to slow down when passing maintenance workers; 60% said they forget to use their indicators; 55% said they used the horn excessively against drivers that annoyed them; 37% admitted tail-gating; 31% said they hogged the middle lane of the motorway; 16% said they’d get out of the car to ‘explain’ themselves to another driver; and an incredible 14% said they read the newspaper while driving. 

While road deaths are going down in France, the number of people nationally who admitted drink driving has risen by 1% to 17% despite over 6 out of 10 saying drinking under the influence is the biggest cause of driving-related deaths. On average, French drivers put the keys down after 2.5 glasses of wine (two glasses is the national limit).

With regards to expats, PACA drivers believe the most responsible of foreign drivers to be the Swedish (35%) followed by the Germans (34%), the British (10%) and the Dutch (8%). Italians are considered to be the most irresponsible drivers (39%).