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The attitudes of European drivers towards the enforcement of traffic regulations

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This article reports the findings of an analysis of the SARTRE database which contains detailed information on the attitudes of more than 15 thousand European drivers. In order to provide information on the attitudes of European managers regarding enforcement issues, it was decided to analyze the parts of the existing SARTRE database relevant to enforcement issues.

THE SARTRE STUDY AND QUESTIONNAIRE

The analysis Technique

This method aggregates observations into a small number of groups, so that an individual resembles the members of the group to which he is assigned more than any other individual. By using the same set of questions, this enables a structured and combined view of the observed individuals, within the same interpretive framework, to be obtained.

Driver’s general attitudes related to road safety and enforcement

When asked whether people should be allowed to decide for themselves how much to drink and drive, only 16% of drivers in the EU strongly agree or agree, with a range from 43% in Greece to just 1% in Sweden. Returning to the analysis (Figure 1), the first three of these questions appear to be much more related to Factor 1 (the left-right axis).

Respect for speed limits and attitudes to speeding

For example, they are more likely to report never exceeding the speed limit, are more likely to support current or even lower speed limits, and rarely expect their speed to be monitored. They demonstrate their acceptance of speed limits and enforcement activities by not signaling other drivers to warn them of a police speed check.

Opinions about causes of road accidents

It can be seen that the different categories of 'always' answers make a more important contribution to this axis, and can be very clearly distinguished from other categories.

Opinions about drinking and driving

Attitudes about harmonising certain traffic laws in Europe

Conclusions about attitude ‘map’ for active variables

Attitudes, socio-demographic and national characteristics

This suggests that drivers who indicate that they never exceed the speed limit or drive above the legal blood alcohol level and who favor stricter enforcement are generally older people, more likely to be female, have more than 25 years of driving experience, or drive less than 10,000 km per year. In contrast, drivers who report that they frequently exceed the speed limit, who oppose stricter enforcement, and who are more likely to drive while over the drink-driving limit are more likely to be male, young, and to drive more than 25,000 km per year.

Attitudes and national groups

This means that Greek drivers, and to a marginally lesser extent Spanish, Hungarian and French drivers, believe that factors related to vehicles (such as faulty brakes, tyres, lights and steering) are relatively more important as a cause of accidents than drivers in other countries. , and especially to drivers in Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands, who believe that they rarely cause accidents. The figure also shows that French and Greek drivers tend to be more likely than drivers in other countries to believe that they should be allowed to decide for themselves how much they can drink and drive; unlike Finnish, Swedish and Dutch drivers who have the opposite view. Drivers in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia are also reasonably close to the factor plan, and their attitudes indicate that they report it.

This reflects that they have a special attitude that is different from that found in other countries. It appears that UK drivers report obeying drink laws more than other countries.

Groupings for different countries

Austrian, Portuguese and Swiss drivers

  • General attitudes
  • Speed limits
  • Drinking and driving
  • Harmonisation of regulations in Europe
  • Driver demographics

Austrian drivers appear to differ from Swiss and Portuguese drivers with respect to a null limit for novice drivers; while more than two-thirds of Austrian managers support such a measure, more than half of Swiss and Portuguese managers were against such legislation. Drivers in these countries tended to oppose a penalty points system for offenders and a requirement for vehicle manufacturers to modify their vehicles to limit their maximum speed. Austrian drivers tended to be younger than the average European driver, they were more likely to live in small towns (with less than 10,000 inhabitants) and also more likely to live in larger cities (with between 10,000 and 100,000 residents).

Portuguese drivers were also much younger than average, drove more kilometers each year, were more likely to live in small towns and have low incomes. Swiss drivers tended to be closer to the European average age, to have finished their education later and to report less driving each year.

Belgian, Italian and Polish drivers

  • General attitudes
  • Speed limits
  • Drink driving
  • Harmonisation of regulations in Europe
  • Driver demographics

While more than one in ten Belgian drivers reported that they sometimes drove when they could have exceeded the legal limit, just over one third expected to be checked by the police "sometimes" or "often" for drink driving . In contrast, very few Polish drivers reported that they had driven with a possible excess of the legal limit and also did not expect to be tested for alcohol. Almost half of Italian drivers are concerned about drink driving, but did not expect to be stopped by the police for drink driving.

While Belgian drivers are generally against a penalty points system, Italian drivers consider it a good idea. The Polish sample of drivers tended to be younger, contained more males and had fewer years of driving experience.

Finnish, Dutch and Swedish drivers

  • General attitudes
  • Speed limits
  • Drink driving
  • Harmonisation of regulations in Europe
  • Driver demographics

Dutch drivers are generally older and drive longer than the European average. Compared to other countries, they were more likely to be women and tended to have high incomes. Swedish drivers tended to be slightly older and had been driving for longer, but reported driving less distance than average each year.

Almost half indicate that they have a high income and almost three-quarters live in cities with between 10,000 and 100,000 inhabitants.

Spanish, French, Greek and Hungarian drivers

  • General attitudes
  • Speed limits
  • Drink driving
  • Harmonisation of regulations in Europe
  • Driver demographics

French and Spanish leaders tended to be more in favor of keeping the legal blood alcohol level as it was, with the French even tending to support a higher level. Spanish drivers tended to be younger, more male, had driven for less time and drove less distance each year than the average European driver. French drivers tended to be older, more likely to be female and to have driven longer than in the entire sample.

Greek drivers tended to be younger, were male and had less driving experience than average. Hungarian drivers were slightly older, were more likely to be male, had less driving experience, but drove more than average.

German, Czech, Slovak and Slovene drivers

  • General attitudes
  • Speed limits
  • Drink driving
  • Harmonisation of regulations in Europe
  • Driver demographics

German drivers were slightly older, more often women, had more years of driving experience and drove longer than the European average each year. Almost one third of the German drivers surveyed lived in large cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Slovakian drivers were mostly younger and have less driving experience than other European drivers.

They stopped receiving full-time education earlier, and more than half of them reported having a low income. More than two-thirds of them lived in small towns with a population of less than 10,000.

Irish and United Kingdom (UK) drivers

  • General attitudes
  • Speed limits
  • Drink driving
  • Harmonisation of regulations in Europe
  • Driver demographics

Drivers in these four countries are generally more in favor of a zero alcohol limit than other Europeans, although up to 10% of German and Slovenian drivers report that they sometimes drive when they might be over the limit. The Czech drivers were slightly older and drove less each year compared to the other drivers in the overall sample. While most Irish drivers reported that they never exceeded speed limits, UK drivers were significantly more likely than other European drivers to admit to driving over the legal limit.

Irish and British drivers are generally very disciplined about drinking and driving and seem more reluctant than other European drivers to drive after drinking. The sample of British drivers was on average older and drove longer than other European drivers.

European drivers

  • General attitudes to enforcement
  • Factors contributing to accidents
  • Speed limits
  • Drink driving
  • Driving behaviour
  • Harmonisation of regulations in Europe
  • Driver demographics

Almost a third (29.4%) of all drivers reported ever driving after drinking alcohol (but not necessarily when over the limit) and 43.6% did so "very often". Over half (56.1%) of all drivers were "strongly" opposed to letting people decide for themselves how much they can drink and drive, with a quarter (24.5%) of drivers "opposing" the idea. In contrast, 13.1% of drivers were in favor (3.9% strongly) of letting drivers decide for themselves how much they can drink before driving - meaning not having a limit.

A fifth (20.9%) of motorists were strongly in favor of requiring car manufacturers to modify their vehicles to limit top speeds, with 26.7% in "fair" favour. While one in five motorists (24.7%) are "against" and 18.0% "strongly" against having a device fitted to their cars to help them not exceed the legal speed limit, 17.3% of motorists were strongly in favor and 34.7% in favor of such a device being installed.

Summary Table

The average age of the driver sample interviewed was 41.5 years and 38.3% of the sample were female. Effective enforcement of traffic rules - and the safety and environmental benefits this brings - depends critically on the attitudes of drivers as well as the authorities (such as the police) who carry out enforcement. The polls (conducted in 19 European countries) identified a high level of concern about road safety, widespread support for greater enforcement of traffic rules by the police designed to aid safety, as well as tougher penalties for offenders.

The results clearly show that the driving public is strongly in favor of police enforcement of traffic rules; and that any possible concerns from the police that this is unpopular with the public are misplaced. The overall results support this idea of ​​the 'selfish' – rather than altruistic – individual, with directors generally supporting their own interests. It is expected that the final results of the ESCAPE project will use the results reported here and in others to contribute to this process.

How often do you think each of the following causes car accidents?

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