When 2,000 British drivers were asked by Carrentals.co.uk where they least liked to drive abroad, Italy came out on top for 23% of them. This did not come as a huge surprise to this Italy resident.
The unhappy British drivers complained about the erratic, impatient driving habits of Italians, who hoot horns for no apparent reason, drive far too fast and weave between lanes on Italy’s motorways. Italy’s crowded town centers and poor quality roads also irked Britons, as did Italy’s high speed limits and cliff-top roads.
Are Italy’s drivers really that bad? Yes and no. While by no means all Italians drive as if they are late for their own funerals, some certainly do. And the further south you venture in Italy, the more erratic the driving becomes. The only place I know of which compared to Italy in terms of aggressive driving was London.
I have driven here and once you become used to it, it’s not too bad. Italy’s county roads, of which there are no shortage, can be very pleasant and traffic can be virtually non-existent.
Italy’s drivers are probably more lethal for pedestrians as even the simple act of getting to the other side of the road can be terrifying in Italy. Stories of old ladies and children being mown down on pedestrian crossing do crop up in Italy’s news quite often, it has to be said.
If you’ve ever tried to cross the road here, you’ll know that Italians are much more likely to swerve than to simply stop and let you cross. Crossing the road in chaotic Naples can be truly nerve wracking – I know, I’ve done it and survived!
Older Italian drivers of both sexes tend to be less considerate than the younger ones, or at least that is my experience after having been nearly taken out on zebra crossings by grey haired road racers more than a few times.
Italian drivers tend to dislike applying their brakes unless forced to. This means that slowing down and stopping for an amber traffic light can mean you’ll end up being rear-ended by the driver behind you.
It is also true that some Italians treat the nations motorway network like raceways. You’ll see big cars hurtling along at way above Italy’s generous speed limits and if you happen to find yourself in the outside lane and Mr I’m (always) a Big Hurry ends up behind you, expect to be tailgated and for headlights to be flashed at you. The horn may well be beeped at you too, but you probably won’t hear it.
I’ve seen some spectacular accidents here in Italy too. Back in the UK I rarely, if ever, saw cars and vans lying on their sides after having been t-boned by some other high speed motorist. In Italy, I’ve seen this more than a few times.
Before Italians object to the criticism of their driving habits by Britain’s drivers, they should perhaps take a look at how much less car insurance costs in the United Kingdom. In Italy, comprehensive car insurance policies are so prohibitively expensive that almost nobody can afford them. This appears to imply that Italian drivers are a very high risk for insurance companies.
A few times I’ve mulled over the idea of getting a motorbike but I’ve decided it’d be a bad idea because I probably wouldn’t last more than five minutes.
My Italian other half once had a scooter. She’d take our son out on the back from time to time. This used to worry me to death as I thought I may never see my son, or her, ever again. The scooter has been sold. I never used it anyway. Guess why?
On balance, those British drivers do have a point.
By the way, Italy’s drivers might find that if they slowed down a little, their sky-high insurance costs may well fall.
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