On May 23, 2022, the Vinci Autoroutes Foundation released its 12th Responsible Driving Barometer. The organization dedicates itself to responsible driving in general, so in a way, you could say this annual effort is its flagship survey of thousands of drivers throughout Europe. Now, surveys like this are all self-reported, and everyone has a point of view—but even with that in mind, the results of the 2022 survey are pretty worrying if you’re a rider.
In 2022, the Vinci Autoroutes Foundation surveyed a total of 12,400 drivers across 11 European countries to learn more about changing driving habits. Although 51 percent of European drivers acknowledged that driver inattention can contribute to crashes, many still also say they aren’t always paying as much attention as they should, and they know it.
What’s the most concerning statistic? 82 percent of European drivers responding said that they sometimes take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds when traveling at speeds of 130 kilometers per hour or greater (or 80.77 mph). Within France, that number crept up to 84 percent of drivers with this alarming admission. No matter what type of road user you are, that should concern you—and particularly if you’re a rider.
Delving further into the survey, 53 percent of European respondents said their mind wanders while they’re driving, and that they aren’t always paying attention even if their eyes are technically on the road. That number jumps up to 67 percent of French respondents (Vinci is a French company), so if you’re riding in France, you may want to pay extra close attention to the drivers around you.
What about smartphone use? Approximately 75 percent of European respondents reported using their smartphones while driving, which sounds terrible. However, it’s worth noting that the way the question was asked did also include using phones for GPS. I don’t know about you, but I use my phone for GPS quite often while driving and riding, via audio instructions. Technically, though, you could still consider it ‘phone use’, even if you’re not actively staring at your phone. So, until and unless the question is phrased more clearly, it's difficult to parse how useful this statistic is.
Crashes and near-misses stemming from smartphone use might be a better barometer of driver behavior—and apparently, Vinci’s survey writers thought so as well. In 2022, the survey found that 12 percent of respondents reported either having already had, or nearly had, a crash they say could be blamed on mobile phone use.