Westend61 / Rainer Berg

Belgians are Europe’s most stressed drivers

A study of drivers in 11 European countries has revealed that Belgian motorists are suffer the most stress when they are behind the wheel. The higher than average stress levels endured by Belgian motorists lead to anti-social behaviour while driving such as excessive use of the horn and overtaking from the right.  

The study found that Belgian drivers are twice as stressed as their Dutch counterparts. As regards anti-social behaviour while driving, of the 11 countries surveyed only the Italians and Greeks sound their horns more than the Belgians do.  

Just half of the Belgian motorists surveyed said that they felt calm while driving. This is 10% less than the average for drivers in the 11 countries survey and 20% less than Dutch drivers.  

This begs the question of while so many of us feel stressed while driving.

Stef Willems of the road safety organisation Vias Institute told VRT News that "The increase in traffic jams could go some way explaining the stress suffered by Belgian drivers. However, our town planning also plays a role”.

"Due to ribbon development, something that you rarely if ever see in The Netherlands, you have to remain constantly alert for all kinds of road users you might come across”.  

Mr Willems believes that it could help if those using the roads were to put themselves into the position of a different kind of road users. For example if car drivers were to put themselves into the position of a cyclist and vice versa.  

Another possible way of reducing stress among motorists is address the issues caused by traffic jams. This could be achieved by leaving the car at home.

However, "This requires good public transport and for us to provide sufficient infrastructure for cyclists. If people were get about using other forms of transport, this could not only reduce traffic jams, but also stress levels”.

Carpooling is another way of reducing traffic congestion. Currently just 8% of Belgians have ever used a carpooling platform. This is just half the European average and a third of the 24% that have used aa carpooling platform at least once in France.  

Not all bad news

It’s not all bad news though as the survey also reveals that Belgian motorists have a good reputation abroad.

According to those surveyed with the exception of the Spaniards we are the best at keeping our distance in traffic and wear our seatbelts the most of all countries surveyed.   .

When travelling long distances Belgian motorists stop more often for a rest or a nap.