Press releases

7 Jun 2018

1st Abertis Global Observatory on road safety: the Europeans are the ones that exceed the speed limit the most; the South Americans, the ones that use the seatbelt the least

1st Abertis Global Observatory on road safety: the Europeans are the ones that exceed the speed limit the most; the South Americans, the ones that use the seatbelt the least

  • More than a third of European light-vehicle drivers exceed the speed limit: 38% in the case of Spanish drivers, and 41% in the case of the French ones.
  • In South America, they underperform in the use of the backseat passenger’s seatbelt. In Brazil, 48% do not use it; and in Argentina, it is the 69%. In the case of Puerto Rico, the percentage rises to over 70% of the total.
  • This study compiles the results of Abertis' driving Observatories carried out in six network countries: Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Puerto Rico.

Abertis presents the findings of its first Global Observatory about the behaviour of drivers on the Group's toll roads. This study compiles the aggregate data from driving Observatories of Abertis' clients carried out in 2017 in six countries of the Group's network: Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Puerto Rico.

2017 results

The results of Abertis' 1st Global Driving Observatory were extracted from studies carried out by the subsidiaries in countries where the Group operates. The average figures were considered in proportion to the number of kilometres driven on each network. In 2017, more than two million vehicles (heavy and light) were analysed during 49 days in seven locations.

According to the latest data, 32% of the drivers analysed do not drive within the speed limit; 26% do not drive on the right-hand side lane as required by law; 44% do not use the indicators correctly to signal their manoeuvres; 25% do not observe the minimum stopping distance; 5% use their mobile phone while driving; and 36% of backseat passengers do not wear their seatbelt.

Infogrpahic Global Observatory Abertis

Speed limit: 32% of noncompliance 

In the European countries where Abertis operates, France registers the highest number of drivers exceeding the speed limit, around 41%. France is closely followed by Spain with around 38% of drivers of light vehicles.

In America, around 53% of Chilean drivers of light vehicles breach this rule, whilst in Brazil 30% of drivers break the speed limit. The percentages are slightly lower in Puerto Rico and Argentina at 15% and 10% respectively.  

According to the WHO, increased speed is linked to the likelihood of having an accident and to the accident's severity and consequences.

Lane misuse: 26% of noncompliance

As for lane usage, even though it is mandatory in all these countries to drive on the right-hand side lane and to use the other lanes only to overtake, more than one fourth of the drivers analysed use the other lanes for other purposes. There are no major differences between continents with the French (37%) and Chilean (54%) drivers at the top of the list.

Indicating overtaking and lane changes: 44% of noncompliance

Not using the indicator to signal overtaking and lane changes is the most common violation on Abertis' network of toll roads. On average, 44% of drivers do not comply with this requirement, with Spain (45%), Argentina (49%), Brazil (56%) and Puerto Rico (74%) above average. With only one exception, drivers indicate overtaking more often than they indicate lane changes. In this case, noncompliance reaches about 80% (Puerto Rico).

Stopping distance: 25% of noncompliance  

As for the stopping distance, a distinction must be made between networks of urban toll roads and inter-city toll roads. On urban toll roads (Argentina and Chile), this is the most common violation at 69% and 75% of drivers respectively.

As regards inter-city toll roads, 16% of drivers in Spain and Brazil and 37% of drivers in Puerto Rico do not comply with this rule.

The differences between vehicle types should be noted. Whilst more than one third of light vehicles drive too close to the vehicle in front, heavy vehicles often observe the stopping distance: only around 2% of Puerto Ricans violate the legal limit.

Mobile while driving: 5% of noncompliance

Using their mobile phone while driving is the least frequent behaviour of drivers on all Abertis networks. In Brazil, this represents only around 1% of drivers. However, the percentage rises to around 5% in Spain, France and Chile and exceeds 10% in Argentina and Puerto Rico. A worrying fact in terms of the dangers posed by this behaviour: while you dial a phone number at 120 km/h, you drive 429 metres without looking at the road. It is estimated that using the mobile phone while driving increases the likelihood of an accident 23 times.

Seatbelt use: 36% of noncompliance 

In this case, there are major differences in seatbelt use between drivers and backseat passengers. Amongst drivers, compliance is high in France and Spain with lower results in Argentina (21% of noncompliance) and Chile (12%). However, percentages rise significantly amongst backseat passengers with 72% in Puerto Rico, 69% in Argentina and 48% in Brazil. In Europe, this behaviour still needs to be improved albeit the level of noncompliance is slightly lower: Spain at around 21% and France at around 13%.

Using your seatbelt reduces the risk of death in an accident by half. It is estimated that using child restraint systems reduces deaths by around 75% and injuries by around 90%.

The Abertis Driving Observatory

The Driving Observatory was first implemented in France in 2012 and focused on observing the drivers' behaviour in relation to the six most common violations in the country: using the mobile phone, speeding, incorrect use of slow and fast lanes, not using the indicators, not observing the stopping distance and not using seatbelts.

From the findings and data processing, the French subsidiary has been able to adapt its awareness-raising and road safety dissemination campaigns to the most frequent behaviours.

After its success, in 2017 Abertis expanded the observatory to five more countries on the Group's network: Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Puerto Rico. Italy should be added in the coming years.

By aggregating data from all networks Abertis will be able to analyse risk behaviours on toll roads globally and to monitor their progression over time. Its aim is to raise the drivers' awareness of the importance of driving responsibly and to promote the right driving habits to reduce the number of accidents with global campaigns.

Abertis and road safety

For Abertis, the world leader in the toll road sector, road safety is of paramount importance. The Group can draw on over 60 years of experience in road management and maintenance as it strives to reduce the number of victims on its network. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of fatalities on Abertis' network fell by 22% and the number of accidents by 9%.

Abertis works with numerous international organisations which are working on solutions for this global problem. Last year, the Group signed an innovative three-year agreement with UNICEF to tackle the main cause of death in children of school age: road accidents. With one million dollars invested every year for three years, the agreement represents the first global corporate contribution to UNICEF's programmes for the prevention of child injuries from accidents.

In 2017 Abertis jointed the Connected Citizens programme from the Waze driving application in seven countries: Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, Chile, Puerto Rico and Argentina. It shares data to improve the road safety of drivers on the Group's toll roads. 

Furthermore, the Group carries out education and awareness-raising campaigns in all the countries where it is present via the Abertis Foundation. The Road Assistant and KanGo! projects in Spain, the Autoroute Académie programme in France and the School project in Chile and Brazil are just a few of its many initiatives. In the academic arena, Abertis funds road safety research in six leading universities around the world through its network of academic chairs set up to promote education, research and knowledge transfer between academia and the company.