Belgians are Europe’s most stressed and noisiest drivers, as not even half of the drivers are calm or relaxed behind the wheel, while the country also scores high in the honking category.
A study by the European Vinci Foundation into dangerous and inappropriate traffic behaviour shows that Belgium is the absolute frontrunner in terms of having the most stressed drivers behind the wheel, Het Nieuwsblad reports. Just 47% of drivers in Belgians are reportedly 'relaxed' while driving.
In addition, Belgium is a champion in confusing bicycle paths with parking lots, as 1 in 5 drivers openly admits to occasionally parking on a cycling lane - despite risking a €116 fine. Only the Netherlands scored worse in this category.
The VIAS road safety institute and the Fietsersbond, a cycling association, emphasise that such behaviour puts others in danger. “You are forcing the cyclist to drive on the road, with all the dangers that entails,” Fietsersbond spokesperson Wies Callens said, insisting on more police checks.
Another dangerous act is ‘forgetting’ to use the direction indicator, which half of the drivers admitted to doing. Belgium also scores high at driving past orange and traffic lights and is the European champion with 63% of drivers not slowing down for road works.
No one is more stressed behind the wheel than Belgians, the study showed, as only 47% of drivers feel calm and comfortable while driving - the lowest percentage of all countries surveyed.
In the Netherlands, in contrast, 2 in 3 drivers say they are relaxed while driving.
Without a doubt, the country’s many traffic jams play a role in this. Both Brussels and Antwerp invariably score very high on the lists of European cities with the worst congestion.
VIAS spokesperson Stef Willems also points out our “sloppy spatial planning, which means you constantly need to be on the alert for other motorised traffic, cyclists and pedestrians”.
A possible consequence of the stress is excessively honking the horn, as nearly 6 in 10 drivers say they honk their horn when they get nervous in traffic, despite the fact that honking unnecessarily can result in a €90 fine. Only Spanish and Greek drivers make more noise.
In a response to the research results, Stef Willems from the VIAS safety institute emphasises that “respect for the highway code - such as not parking on the bicycle paths - is necessary in order not to endanger other road users”.
“But courtesy and empathy are also essential to improve coexistence between the increasing number of road users,” he adds.