Publication

European car drivers' opinions about road safety measures and in-car devices

Analysis of SARTRE 2 survey results in terms of how European car drivers differ in their preferences for road safety measures

Author(s)

Goldenbeld, Dr. Ch

Year

1998

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In 1991, a representative survey of drivers was conducted in fifteen European countries. This project was named SARTRE which stands for Social Attitudes to Road Traffic Risk in Europe. The survey focused on drivers' road behaviour, attitudes and opinions concerning drinking and driving, speeding and seat belt use, opinions on accident causation and on traffic measures, experiences with police enforcement, perceptions of behaviours of other drivers, car preferences, experiences with driving in foreign countries, and risk perception. In 1996 the survey was held again, this time in nineteen European countries and with an improved questionnaire. The new project was termed SARTRE 2. The SARTRE 2 survey presents us with an unique database on traffic related attitudes, behaviours and experiences in nineteen different European countries. This database enables us to make comparisons between countries and over time, to study determinants of traffic behaviour and to determine the degree of societal support for different traffic measures. Chapter 1 presents the findings of straightforward descriptive analysis concerning European opinions about road safety measures. Specifically, the following subjects are described: differences in opinions of European drivers about road safety measures shifts in opinions from SARTRE 1 to SARTRE 2; the nations where drivers have shown most frequent or largest shifts in opinion. Chapter 2 describes the results of a non-linear canonical correlation analysis, focusing on patterns of differences of European car drivers in opinions and norms concerning road safety measures and incar devices. Major findings were as follows. In 1996, there is large majority support among European drivers for road safety measures such as improvement of improvement of road standards, improvement of driver training, enforcement of traffic laws, testing of vehicles for safety, road safety campaigns, an European introduction of penalty points system and an European ban on alcohol for beginning drivers. The introduction of a number on measures (e.g. penalty points system, installation of third braking light) on an European scale is also widely approved among European drivers. The approval for the European installation of a third braking light has increased greatly from minority support in 1991 to clear majority support in 1996. Presumably, the slowly increasing exposure to and (positive) experience with this device in daily traffic in the nineties has caused this considerable opinion shift. The questions which show the largest variation between European countries pertain to the necessity of improving the standards of roads and to the strictness regarding drinkinganddriving. This result is in line with an earlier analysis of SARTRE 1 results in 1992, in which it was found that these questions were part of the two major discriminating dimensions between European countries. Within EU member states, the opinions on these two issues tend to differ along a North-South line. Drivers of rather Northerly located EU-states (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Austria) tend to completely reject any personal freedom in drinking and driving and, at the same time, are not so much in favour of their government undertaking more action to improve the standards of roads. On the other hand, drivers of Southerly located EU-states (Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain) are far more lenient in regard to personal freedom in drinking and driving and are more in favour of government taking steps to improve the standards of roads. Specific recommendations are given regarding the design of road safety campaigns, publicity about drinking and driving and priorities for future transport planning

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