Ça alors! French drivers top European road-rage table, survey reveals

By Kim Willsher in Paris

The French are the road-rage champions of Europe, according to a survey, with the highest number of drivers who feel they become more aggressive when they get on the road.

The 10th annual poll of “responsible driving” published by the Vinci Motorway Foundation and carried out by the Ipsos polling agency in 11 European countries, revealed that one French driver in five – and more in the Paris area – has a Jekyll and Hyde personality behind the wheel.

They admitted they were “no longer really the same person when driving and are more agitated, impulsive or aggressive than in normal life”.

One out of 10 French drivers believes it is “every person for themselves” on the roads, according to the survey, which can emerge as bad behaviour towards other drivers who have upset them, including insults and swearing.

French drivers shared joint first place with Greeks in the self-reported poll as the most likely to hurl insults at fellow road-users – 70% of all those surveyed.

“The tendency of drivers to feel in their own bubble when they are in their vehicle makes them forget the collective nature of driving and as a result their behaviour towards others,” said Bernadette Moreau of Vinci.

“The vast majority of French are extremely indulgent towards their own driving, but much less so with that of others,” she added, saying the findings showed drivers described their own behaviour behind the wheel as “calm and courteous” but others as “irresponsible and dangerous”.

The survey revealed that 78% of European motorists admitted they had taken their eyes off the road to look at their phone or the radio while driving, almost none respect a safe distance between vehicles, and a third will deliberately drive close to another vehicle whose driver has annoyed them.

The Swedes were mostly likely to drive too fast and the Spanish the keenest to use their horns. The Greeks topped the list for dangerous road behaviour and the British last.