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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Britain's drivers 'most uptight'
Traffic jam
A total of 87% of British drivers get annoyed with other drivers
British motorists are the most uptight in Europe, the Belgians the most laid-back, and the French top the league for road rage, figures suggest.

The survey involving 13,000 licence holders in 23 countries comes as the RAC Foundation warns Britons driving abroad this summer to take care.

Death rates on Greek roads were five times higher than in Britain, it said.

And UK drivers in Spain and Portugal were three times more likely to be in a fatal accident.

Double parking
Leaving main headlights on when passing/following
Entering a congested junction
Overtaking a queue of vehicles to cut in front
Cutting across lanes of traffic to exit at last moment
Changing lanes without indicating
Source: Gallup Europe

The survey of motorists' attitudes was released by the RAC and conducted for Europe-wide body Responsible Young Drivers.

It found:

  • British motorists were the most uptight in Europe, with 87% sometimes very annoyed by other drivers
  • Belgian drivers were the most laid-back, with 55% annoyed by other people's driving
  • A total of 60% of French motorists admitted they had behaved aggressively to other road users
  • German road-ragers were most likely to flash their headlights and tailgate, while UK motorists stuck to hand signals. Greek motorists were the most likely to offer a few words of advice
  • Italian drivers were most annoyed by motorists using their mobile phones and Greek motorists were most irritated by last-minute lane changers

    Lower motorway speed limits apply to inexperienced and young drivers in France, Portugal and Luxembourg
    Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Croatia require motorists to wear a hi-visibility jacket if their car breaks down
    Most European countries insist drivers carry driving licence and insurance documents
    In Hungary and Slovakia the alcohol limit is zero
    It is illegal to run out of petrol on the motorway in Germany
    In Greece, you may not carry a petrol can in the car

    According to the RAC Foundation, three million British motorists head to the continent in their cars every year, while many more hire a car on arrival. In Europe as a whole, 57.3% of holiday trips are made by car.

    RAC Foundation executive director Edmund King urged UK drivers to find out about local rules and regulations.

    "High holiday spirits and poor local knowledge can turn a drive to the beach into a trip to A&E," Mr King said.

    "British motorists driving abroad need to expect the unexpected at all times if they want to bring home holiday photos rather than X-rays."

    UK deaths

    Separately, the AA is warning motorists heading for popular UK tourist destinations to take care in "deadly" lay-bys.

    Nearly two-thirds of fatal accidents involving stopped vehicles on a dual carriageway happen in a lay-by, a study from the AA Motoring Trust found.

    More than half the vehicles hit are lorries and in the past year at least six people have died in lay-by crashes in the UK, the trust said.

    It added that drivers should stay out of lay-bys that are not separated from the main road by a kerbed island.

    The trust's study, co-funded by the Highways Agency, surveyed lay-bys along the A303 and the A34, two busy holiday routes leading to south and south-west England.

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