Germans found to be Europe’s most aggressive drivers

Merkel on a flatbed. Nuremburg, 2010. [Joel Schalit]

Tailgating, shouting insults – nowhere in Europe do drivers react as intensely as they do in Germany, a recent study shows. But few are willing to criticise their own behavior. EURACTIV Germany reports.

German drivers are the biggest bullies on the road, says a survey conducted by Ipsos.

Two out of three (67%) admitted to using offensive gestures, and verbal abuse, to insult other drivers.

In comparison, 56% of their EU neighbours resorted to such aggression.

Stepping out of the car

Germans are also the most likely to tailgate, according to the survey’s results. More than one-third (34%) said they purposefully follow close behind, or otherwise annoy drivers, in order to intimidate them (EU average: 32%).

18% even get out of their vehicle to pursue a dispute with other drivers, using the road (EU average: 15%).

Meanwhile, drivers in the Federal Republic were more likely to follow traffic regulations. Here, their responses were close to the European average.

>>Read: MEPs back data sharing to punish bad driving

93%, almost all German car drivers, responded that they exceed the speed limit. 60% pass through areas under construction without slowing down, and 59% said they change lanes without using a turn signal.

But the study’s results painted a similar picture in other European countries, with regard to traffic rules.

Considerate and calm

All of these violations barely have an effect on drivers’ individual assessments of their own behaviour, the Ipsos study showed.

97% of German drivers considered themselves to be “attentive”, 81% said they are “calm” and at least 57% called their driving style “considerate”.

What’s more, outside perceptions of German driving habits were also not especially critical. Asked about their behaviour on the road, Greece, Spain and Poland were the most likely to issue a positive response.

People surveyed in these three countries said they believe that Germans are the most considerate drivers in Europe.

Majority does not know all traffic regulations

The results of another recent survey, conducted by Forsa, focuses on knowledge of traffic regulations. Responses revealed an additional lack of awareness regarding rules of the road among German drivers.

9 out of 10 male drivers (89%) between 18 and 29 said they were not familiar with all traffic regulations. Among 45 to 59 year-olds, only 8% indicated that they knew all of the rules.

Meanwhile, young female drivers claimed to have a much firmer grip on their knowledge of traffic regulations. More than one-fifth (22%) of women surveyed were convinced they had a good knowledge of the rules, regardless of the age group surveyed.

The 2011 Directive facilitating the cross-border exchange of information on road safety-related traffic offences was adopted after three years of negotiations.

It aims to ensure a high level of protection for all road users in the European Union by facilitating the cross-border exchange of information on road safety-related traffic offences, and thereby the enforcement of sanctions, where those offences are committed with a vehicle registered in a Member State other than the Member State where the offence took place.

The legal basis initially proposed by the European Commission was from transport policy, specifically for measures to improve transport safety. However, the Council considered police cooperation as the appropriate legal basis and in order to avoid further delay in implementing the measures, the EP agreed to adopt the Directive on the latter legal basis.

As a consequence, the European Commission challenged the legal basis of the Directive before the Court of Justice of the EU. In its judgment of 6 May 2014 (case-43/12) the Court annulled the Directive, finding that it should have been adopted on the basis of the transport legal basis (Article 91(1) TFEU), but maintained its effects for a maximum of 12 months, until the entry into force of a new Directive.

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