July 15, 2024

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Eurobarometer: Young drivers, not old people, pose a danger on the roads

The VINCI Autoroutes Foundation publishes the results of the 13th study of the Responsible Driving Barometer.
A major annual survey conducted by the Ipsos Institute among 12,400 people from 11 European countries captures a representative view of Europeans’ attitudes towards driving. At the same time, it allows experts to track the evolution of dangerous driving and the application of best practices in the fight against traffic violations.
The results show that among young people under 35 years of age, especially men, risky driving behavior associated with the use of mobile phones predominates: 23% watch movies or videos while driving, drive drunk, or drive while drowsy.
Another alarming phenomenon: almost one in three drivers aged 16 to 24 years old does not wear a seat belt.
Another fact noted in the study is the widespread use of phones (including those using Bluetooth): although more than 1 in 2 drivers (56%) make phone calls while driving, 71% of them do not consider this practice dangerous.


The 2023 study also demonstrates the growing reluctance of drivers to obey traffic rules and respect other road users. The consequences of this are very noticeable: 84% of respondents say they are already afraid of aggressive behavior from other drivers. This is a very high percentage that has not decreased since 2019.

Talking on the phone and using a smartphone while driving are almost universal traffic violations in all countries EU:
  • 76% of European drivers use their smartphones or program their GPS while driving (84% of Greeks).
  • 66% make calls while driving (76%), of which 42% regularly (44%), i.e. +5 points compared to 2018.
  • This applies to all age groups: 77% of people under 35 (78%) and 55% of people over 55 (70%) make a phone call while driving.
  • The use of a mobile phone in a car is predominantly private: this applies to 82% of drivers of various ranks in general and 69% of senior managers.
  • Bluetooth use is widespread and its dangers are underestimated: 56% of drivers make calls using a Bluetooth system. Among them, 71% do not consider this practice dangerous, and 18% have already had or almost had an accident due to using a phone while driving.
  • 22% of working drivers participate in business meetings by phone while driving. Among them, 40% do not consider this practice dangerous, and 44% have already had or almost had an accident due to using a phone while driving.
Alcohol and drugs:
  • 7% of European drivers, or more precisely 17% of men under the age of 35, admit to driving while intoxicated.
  • 11% of drivers say they have had or were nearly involved in an accident due to excessive drinking. This figure reaches
  • 25% of men under 35 years of age.
  • 20% of men under the age of 35 drive while using illegal substances (or medications) that can impair their alertness.
  • 5% of men under the age of 35 drive after smoking marijuana or taking drugs.
Drowsiness – awareness of the danger and preventive measures that have not yet been sufficiently implemented:
  • 7% of European drivers recognize drowsiness as one of the main causes of fatal accidents on roads in general and 20% on motorways.
  • 26% felt that they fell asleep at the wheel for a few seconds.
  • More than 1 in 6 drivers (15%) have had or nearly been involved in an accident due to drowsiness.
  • 3 hours 12 minutes is the average driving time after which you should take a break during a long trip. That is, the driving time significantly exceeds the recommended 2 hours.
And although the French are less likely to report sleepiness over the past 10 years (37%, -21 points compared to 2014), their awareness of this risk remains significantly higher than the rest of Europe (20%).
Aggressive driving behavior. The drivers themselves become victims of their recklessness:
  • 52% admit to having insulted other drivers.
  • 50% honk at drivers excessively, which annoys them.
  • 22% get out of the car to “deal with” another driver.
  • 84% of European drivers fear aggressive behavior from other drivers. And this is a very high percentage, which has not decreased since 2019.

Failure to comply with traffic rules. Offenses caused by negligence:

  • 22% of European drivers say they sometimes do not wear seat belts.
  • More than 8 out of 10 drivers (84%) exceed the speed limit by several kilometers per hour.
  • 18% have already had or almost had an accident due to speeding (failure to comply with the speed limit).

Road safety, driver negligence can be fatal:

  • 51% forget to slow down when approaching a building.
  • 57% do not maintain a safe distance.
  • Talking on the phone, bad habits, lack of sleep are many factors that put young people especially at risk of road accidents. Although these are mainly novice drivers and those who have a temporary driver’s license.

Young people under 35 years of age consciously or unconsciously take liberties with the Traffic Rules.

The first sign of a conscious desire to violate traffic rules: driving without wearing seat belts (30%) among people under 35 years of age.


Another indicator of the desire to “establish oneself, increase self-esteem,” leading to emerging risks: the use of alcohol, drugs and medications among men under 35:

  • 17% (21% of 16-24 year olds) say they sometimes drink and drive, compared to 7% of all drivers (11%-12% of 16-24 year olds), compared to 9% of all drivers drivers.
  • 25% say they have had or were nearly involved in an accident due to excessive drinking.
  • 20% drive while taking medications that may impair their alertness.
  • 17% (21% of 16 to 24 year olds) drive while smoking marijuana or using drugs – compared to 5% of all drivers.

European drivers believe their driving behavior is exemplary: 96% use at least one positive adjective to describe their driving behavior.
Car owners overwhelmingly believe that they are attentive (74%) and calm (57%) while driving, and 28% consider themselves polite.

Only a few admit that they experience stress while on the road (11%). However, drivers believe that they are almost never aggressive (3%), dangerous (2%) or irresponsible (1%).

For them, bad drivers, of course, are… the rest! Indeed, 78% of European drivers mention at least one negative adjective to describe the behavior of others, whom they consider irresponsible (41%), tense (34%), aggressive (28%), and dangerous (26%).

Protected by the interior of the car (“I’m in the house!”), some drivers feel that they are behaving differently. Thus, among them, 15% admit that they change while driving and believe that they are more nervous, impulsive or aggressive than in everyday life.

19% of them feel “in the house” and care less about others. More than 1 in 6 drivers go so far as to believe that on the road it’s “every man for himself.”

Research methodology

To obtain the Responsible Driving Barometer, Ipsos surveyed 12,400 people over 16 years of age online from 20 February to 3 March 2023, of whom 2,400 were French and at least 1,000 in each of the 10 other countries surveyed, such as : Germany, Belgium, Spain, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Great Britain, Slovakia, Sweden.

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