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Paris, France - Spaniards honk, Swedish drivers chat on their cellphones and Italians often forget to fasten their seat belts.
That’s according to a multi-nation survey, published on Thursday, that was conducted in seven west European countries - Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden - confirmed some stereotypes, such as Italians being the worst drivers, but also threw up some surprises.
The survey by France's Ipsos agency for Fondation Vinci Autoroutes polled more than 1000 people aged over 18 in each country between January 29 and February 10.
Respondents in all the countries unanimously rated Swedes as the most responsible, followed by the Germans and the British.
Italians figured at the bottom of the results and even rated themselves as the worst drivers. Overall 50 percent of respondents in all the countries said the Italians were the most unsafe.
Sixteen percent thought it was the Spanish and 14 percent named the French.
Fondation Vinci Autoroutes spokeswoman Bernadette Moreau siad: “The European Barometer of Responsible Driving showed up marked differences in each of the countries.”
It also debunked cliches of northern Europeans and Nordics being safer drivers than those of Latin blood.
Forty-six percent of Swedish drivers said they often chatted on hand-held cellphones while driving against 24 percent each in France and Spain.
The Swedes were also the most opposed to any sweeping ban on cellphones for drivers with 43 percent voicing disagreement, while their peers in Britain, Spain and Italy said they would back such a move.
Seventy-one percent of Germans and Swedes said they did not respect the minimum security distance, against 50 percent in Spain.
But 63 percent of Spaniards admitted to freely using their horns, outstripping the Swedes (33 percent) and the Italians (29 percent).
More than a third of Italian drivers (35 percent) admitted they sometimes forgot to put on their seat belts against 12 percent in Britain and 10 percent in France.
Germans meanwhile were the ones to drive the longest on highways without taking a break - three hours 43 minutes on average against two hours 45 minutes for the French and the Spanish.
“They have a tendency of overestimating their capacity for resisting fatigue,” said Moreau.