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Europeans ignore traffic rules en masse, but others in particular exhibit aggressive or dangerous behavior

     Europeans ignore traffic rules en masse, but others in particular exhibit aggressive or dangerous behavior

In the recent Completion Meeting for my Bus Rapid Transit Road Safety Audit, one of the engineers told me about road user behaviour in Dar Es Salaam: “Road users here do not know how to behave, they ignore pedestrians, priority rules at junctions and speed limits. It is not like in Europe, where everybody respects the traffic rules”. Unfortunately, the truth is different, as is demonstrated in the article I had found one day earlier in this Dutch newspaper.

Found on 09-11-23, in “Algemeen Dagblad”

Europeans ignore the traffic rules en masse. Dutch, Belgians, French and Spaniards: all Europeans drive through red lights on a large scale, cycle on the sidewalk and park in a disabled space. And almost all of us think that we are doing fine ourselves and that others in particular are exhibiting aggressive or dangerous behavior. More than nine in ten Europeans believe that 'other road users take too much risk'.

This is evident from a survey among more than 12,000 residents of ten European countries, commissioned by Vinci Autoroutes, which operates toll roads in France. Two-thirds of European motorists use their mobile phone while driving. More than half do not use a turn signal when changing lanes. Nearly nine out of ten pedestrians are afraid that cars will not stop when crossing a zebra crossing.

Motorists, cyclists but also walkers often think mainly of themselves. “Road users are not very inclined to leave space for others on the street,” says Vinci, indicating that Europeans “take a lot of risks and cause many traffic violations.”

The car is the most used means of transport in the ten countries. But motorists often behave like egocentric kings on the road, the research shows. 36 percent open their door without looking to see if a cyclist is approaching, 32 percent regularly double park, and 21 percent drive in the bus lane.

Road injuries

In the Netherlands the picture is not much different. "We have been dealing with an increase in the number of road injuries for years," says Rob Stomphorst of Veilig Verkeer Nederland. "There are more and more cars and more and more new and inexperienced drivers."

But psychology also plays a role in the Netherlands. "We also see here what Vinci observed in Europe: the Dutch all think that they are doing well and that others are making mistakes. Dutch men in particular think so. Women have less of that."

​So couldn’t it be that road users all over the world show the same behaviour, just because we are all human beings and are everywhere the same? This is not an excuse, but an encouragement, to continuously emphasize the importance of road safety education and awareness.