Four in 10 motorists say they find driving on the Continent less stressful than driving in the UK compared with just 10% who say they find it is less harrowing in the UK.
Analysis of the opinions of Brits who drive in Europe on a range of factors from the friendliness of other drivers to the condition of the roads and the price of fuel reveals a positive perception of the whole experience across the Channel.
Research, conducted by RAC Europe, reveals just how positive UK drivers generally feel about driving on the Continent. Motorists particularly praised foreign roads for their lower levels of congestion, with 63% saying major roads in mainland Europe suffered from fewer queues, and 56% thinking minor roads were less congested than those in the UK.
But they also enjoyed the superior asphalt of many European roads – seven in 10 said they thought major roads are better maintained abroad, with a majority also stating minor roads are in better condition compared to the UK’s potholed roads.
While a quarter of drivers said they see little difference between motorway service areas in the UK and elsewhere in the EU, nearly double the proportion favoured those abroad. Half also said they believe fuel to be cheaper in mainland Europe which, as RAC Europe data shows, is typically the case – right now diesel costs more in the UK than anywhere else on the Continent except Sweden and Italy, largely thanks to higher taxes. Petrol, however, is currently more expensive in a dozen other EU nations including the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece and, perhaps surprisingly to some UK travellers, France.
Overall drivers on the Continent are perceived to be friendlier and more law-abiding with one in 10 saying that UK drivers are friendlier compared with 16% who said those in mainland Europe are. European drivers are also marginally more law-abiding in the eyes of the British motorists surveyed: 22% said more drivers in Europe obey the speed limit and 17% said fewer drivers use their handheld phones compared with 10% and 6% respectively in the UK. However, UK drivers just pip their European cousins to the post when it comes to the standard of driving with 23% picking the UK over Europe 20%.
RAC Europe spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “It really does seem to be a welcome break for UK motorists when they venture abroad by car. Almost half say they find the experience less stressful than driving on Britain’s broken roads.
“Our research also reveals just how keen many of us are about getting behind the wheel on continental roads which drivers tell us are quieter and better maintained with friendlier and better-behaved drivers. With high levels of frustration over the quality of road surfaces, the sheer volume of traffic and poor driving standards, it is little wonder that Brits appear to be enjoying their motoring experience abroad.”