Friday 23 February 2018

Motorists mirror their parents' bad habits on the roads

Motorists on the M7. Photo: Collins
Motorists on the M7. Photo: Collins

Henry Samuel

Dangerous driving runs in the family, a new French study has found.

It suggests the majority of motorists mirror their parents' behaviour on everything from road rage to speeding and drink driving.

Not renowned for their careful driving, 65pc of younger motorists between the ages of 18 and 25 in France say they are influenced by the behind-the-wheel habits of their mother or father - both good and bad.

Parental influence weighs far more heavily than that of a driving instructor and young drivers are more likely to copy their father than their mother, according to the Ipsos study conducted for a foundation of the Vinci Autoroutes group, which runs French motorways.

After speaking to 993 motorists, the study found 75pc of motorists who admitted to suffering from bouts of road rage said their parents also hurled insults at others from behind the wheel, compared to just 36pc whose parents kept their cool.

The study also found that 77pc of those who admitted to "driving too fast" said their parents did likewise, compared to 45pc of those who said their parents respected speed limits.

"For 18 years, the child then the adolescent sees how his parents drive from the back seat. In primary school, notably, he or she observes and compares what the law imposes and what adults really do," said Daniel Marcelli, a child psychologist, who co-ran a conference on "parenthood behind the wheel" yesterday during which the study was released.

The findings increase the onus on parents to make sure they drive safely, said Bernadette Moreau, from the Vinci Autoroutes foundation.

"We can help children become good drivers. Bad behaviour is passed on, but so is good (behaviour)."

The study also suggested that 72pc of drivers whose parents don't stop for people trying to cross the road said they did likewise. Only 28pc of motorists whose parents slowed down for pedestrians were less civil than their mother or father.

Among the most striking findings into inherited driving habits was about motoring in a state of extreme fatigue, with 71pc of drivers whose parents kept on going despite being very tired saying they did the same, compared to just 29pc of those whose parents took breaks.

Motorists whose parents had the habit of driving while over the alcohol limit were twice as likely to do the same as those whose parents didn't drink drive.

The study came amid calls for the French to clamp down on road safety after a rise in traffic accidents over the past two years.

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