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New research does not paint a good picture for Belgian drivers

New research does not paint a good picture for Belgian drivers

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Not even half of the drivers feel calm or relaxed behind the wheel. This makes us the absolute number one candidate in terms of traffic stress, according to a survey conducted in eleven European countries. This also shows that we are champions in confusing bike path and parking and that we are the pioneers in increasing road speed. Even in the “trumpet firing” category, we end up on the podium.

Werner Roomers

It is again not a pretty picture of the average Belgian motorist presented in the European Fondation Vinci’s study on dangerous and inappropriate traffic behaviour. For example, 1 in 5 sometimes admit to parking their car on a bike path, despite a fine of €116. Only the Netherlands is a bit more disrespectful towards two-wheeled vehicles.

Both the VIAS Safety Institute and the Fietsersbond stress that this parking behavior is extremely dangerous. “After all, you are forcing a cyclist to ride on the road, with all the ensuing risks‘,” said Fittersbond spokesperson Wes Kalins, who is pushing for more police searches.

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Another dangerous traffic behavior is on the rise in our country: “forgetting” to use the direction indicator, which happens to more than half of drivers. We also score high at a traffic light by driving orange or red in the first second. We’re even 63% European champions in non-stop roadworks.

Striking: If anyone in Europe has eaten their steering wheel out of stress, it’s Belgian. Only 47 percent – not even half – feel calm in their car, the lowest percentage of all countries surveyed. A big difference, for example, with our northern neighbors, where two out of three drivers say they drive relaxed. There is no doubt that numerous traffic jams play a role: both Brussels and Antwerp always score very high on lists of European cities with the worst congestion. VIAS spokesman Steve Williams also points out “sloppy spatial planning, which means you should always be on the alert for other motorized traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.”

The possible result of this pressure: Belgian drivers are turning to “horns”. Nearly 6 in 10 drivers say they sound their beeps when they get nervous in traffic, only Spanish and Greek drivers make the most noise. For those who have already passed the driving test for some time: using the horn without reason may result in a fine.

In response to the research findings, the VIAS Safety Institute emphasized that “respect for the highway code – such as not parking on the bike path – is essential in order not to put other road users at risk,” spokesman Steve Williams said. “But tact and empathy are also necessary to improve the coexistence of the growing number of road users.”

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