Tuesday 17 October 2017

Foreign visitors appalled by our driving standards, survey finds

Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent

FOREIGN visitors are appalled at the poor standard of Irish driving especially on motorways, a new survey reveals.

And our notoriously bad driving habits -- road rage, tailgating, speeding and using the mobile phone behind the wheel -- have not improved by much in the past 10 years.

The findings emerged in a survey of almost 7,000 Irish motorists conducted by the Automobile Association (AA).

Mobile phone use while driving, speeding, aggressive driving and tailgating are all cited as the major causes of concern by responsible motorists.

Many of those surveyed, especially drivers from the US, the UK, Australia and continental Europe, also complained about the inability of Irish drivers to use motorways correctly.

Motorists complained of a worsening culture of impatience and speed, often blamed on the values that were prevalent during the Celtic Tiger years.

The AA said that overall the result were positive, as most people felt that standards were better now.

"But the results were far from unanimous and many people felt that Irish drivers had gotten worse, not better," it said.

There were mixed views on whether drivers had improved or not. A total of 43pc of respondents felt that car drivers had improved in the last decade, but 37.5pc said that they had gotten worse.

Conor Faughnan, AA director of policy, said in overall terms, Irish road death numbers had improved greatly, and this was the most important measure of all.

"But there is no doubt that we have a long way to go," Mr Faughnan said.

Safety

"Our survey showed that Irish drivers still have lots of bad habits, and in terms of everyday discipline on the roads we do not compare well to other countries in Europe, even as our improving road safety record begins to match theirs.

"In fact, foreign drivers in particular seem to find Irish driving behaviour to be poor, based on the comments that we received."

The same poll found that the worst-behaved cyclists were in Dublin -- with 38pc of people surveyed believing behaviour had worsened over the last 10 years, while only 25.6pc stated that it had improved.

Mr Faughnan said the results were disappointing at a time when cycling was being promoted, but had to be seen in context.

"Cycling numbers are up, which is a very good thing, and that means that more cyclists are visible on the streets, so it is not much of a surprise that there are more complaints," said Mr Faughnan.

"Most of our towns and cities still do not cater well enough, for cyclists in terms of cycle lanes and facilities, and in fairness many of the comments from AA Panel members made this point."

The same poll of 894 drivers showed that just 10.5pc of motorists cycle regularly, with 2.7pc cycling on a daily basis. In Dublin, 12.7pc of motorists are regular cyclists and 4.1pc cycle on a daily basis.

Irish Independent

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