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Brits among most law abiding and sensible drivers in Europe

1st December 2009 Print

As Christmas approaches and the party season gets underway, new research from AXA shows British drivers are less likely to jump behind the wheel while under the influence and are generally more law abiding and safety conscious than almost all its European neighbours.

In its annual survey of driver behaviour among ten European countries, AXA found that British drivers are among the most conscientious in Europe. The research covered eleven different driving behaviours, many that are governed by legal requirements as well as some general courteous or sensible driving habits.

Overall rankings for safe driving based on eleven behaviours
1 Ireland
2 Great Britain
3 Spain
4 Switzerland
5 Italy
5 Belgium
7 France
8 Germany
9 Portugal
10 Luxembourg

Other highlights from the research showed:

4% of British drivers admit to driving while under the influence of alcohol against a European average of 21% and a massive 40% in Luxembourg. Only the Irish come in lower at 3%

Brits are also the least likely to:
drive without a seatbelt - 9% versus an average of 17%. A huge 37% of Italians go unstrapped
use a mobile phone while driving - 12% versus an average of 30%. In Luxembourg, Italy and Portugal, 38% of drivers are still ‘talk and drive'

When it comes to speeding, jumping lights and overtaking on a solid white line, Brits fall below the average rates across Europe

In all but two areas, British drivers performed above the average, however, when it comes to driving for more than two hours without a break and overtaking on the ‘wrong' side of the motorway it seems we could learn something from some of our European neighbours. Only motorists in Luxembourg and Germany are more likely to drive for long periods without breaks and the Belgians and Portuguese are the only nations to be ‘undertaking' more often than British drivers.

Chris Voller, Head of Motor Claims at AXA said: "These findings reveal British drivers are generally pretty safe behind the wheel and it is especially pleasing to see, in the run up to Christmas, such a low level of drink driving. It goes against the image of the binge drinking Brit and we are delighted to see that, at least when it comes to driving, we show some abstinence. For the small percentage of people who do drink and drive, they should be aware that once they start driving again, having a conviction will seriously affect their chances of getting cover - and as it is illegal to drive without it, it makes sense not to put yourself in that position in the first place.

"We appreciate that deterrents across Europe do vary and this may have a positive bearing on some of the behaviours - in particular Great Britain has a large number of speed cameras. But it is good to see Brits score so well not just on legal requirements but on behaviours that are simply a matter of safe driving such as tailgating."