Despite the general decline in traffic on roads and motorways in 2020 due to the pandemic and the restriction measures that have limited the movement of people, improper use of mobile phones while driving is still the most risky behavior for drivers on the highway. This is the main figure that emerges from the second survey of the “Osservatorio stili di guida” promoted by A4 Holding, a company of the Abertis Group that manages the A4 Brescia-Padova and A31 Valdastico motorway sections.
The data collection and processing, carried out by Studio Righetti & Monte Associati, was carried out through the monitoring, carried out through mobile stations, of over 1330 vehicles (of which 39% were light and 61% were heavy) in transit on the motorway sections of competence of A4 Holding.
The Observatory found that 12% of the total number of monitored drivers drive using their mobile phone improperly. If we also consider the type of vehicle driven, 11% of light vehicle drivers and 13% of heavy vehicle drivers are driving using their mobile phones in an unsuitable way.
The 2020 survey also highlights that, among the other factors that constitute a potential cause of accidents, there is still the lack of use of arrows for lane change, an attitude to driving which, however, in the 2020 survey shows a clear improvement in the trend. In fact, the total number of vehicles that do not use the direction indicator to signal lane change to overtake dropped to 57% (67% in 2019) and the total number of vehicles that do not use arrows to highlight the maneuver dropped to 70% of return (74% in 2019).
To complete the picture on the behavior of motorway customers, the Observatory also analyzed the approach of drivers with respect to the use of seat belts, which represent, in the event of an accident, one of the most important protection mechanisms for those on the interior of a car or an articulated lorry. The seat belt is used by 87% of all drivers (93% of drivers of light vehicles and 83% of heavy vehicles), a percentage which however decreases significantly if we consider the use of the belt by passengers traveling in the back seat: in this case only 39% of the total wear it.
Driving behavior: the impact of the pandemic
The survey carried out in this particular context of generalized reduction in mobility and traffic highlighted how the health emergency and the consequent restrictive measures implemented, which limited the mobility of people compared to that of goods, led to a change in the typology of users prevalent on motorway sections, with the presence of more heavy vehicles than light ones, which also corresponds to a change in the habits of drivers.
The Observatory highlights that, although the numerical sample is aligned with that of 2019, its composition is reversed compared to 2019 and the relationship between observation on light vehicles compared to heavy ones is about 40/60.
The ratio between light and heavy vehicles monitored is also the main factor that determines some behavioral differences with respect to the indicators that emerged from the 2019 survey: the reduction in the number of passengers detected on board light vehicles (mainly only the driver on board) which goes from 40 % in 2019 to 30% in 2020, a figure linked to restrictive measures and the absence of leisure trips, the lower use of seat belts by light vehicle drivers which goes from 97% in 2019 to 93% in 2020, determined by the lower presence of light "passenger" vehicles on the motorway compared to light commercial vehicles (vans) whose drivers are less likely to use seat belts and, finally, the greater use of direction indicators in the event of overtaking which goes from 33% in 2019 to 50% in 2020, determined by the greater use by heavy vehicles of arrows for lane change.
The “Osservatorio stili di Guida” has proved to be a very effective tool to support the company's commitment to road safety projects and works - commented Gonzalo Alcalde Rodríguez, Chairman of A4 Holding - It is a tool that we believe to be fundamental to continue to optimize the process of analyzing risky behaviors on the motorway, so as to monitor the evolution of results over time and activate tailor-made awareness initiatives and campaigns that help people understand risks and adopt behaviors to preserve their safety and that of other travelers. Our commitment has contributed to produce important results that we can see year after another. In the five-year period 2016-2020, accidents on the A4 Brescia-Padova and A31 Valdastico were reduced by 12% and this was possible also thanks to the investments made by A4 Holding, which allocates an average of 51 million euros to ordinary maintenance costs per year and another 15 in technologies for monitoring, supporting and managing traffic and accidents on the entire 235 km motorway section under concession. The Observatory is a central element of our strategy and will return with a new survey scheduled for summer 2021, alongside a series of initiatives dedicated to safety that we are planning, involving schools and young people in the territories that our motorways cross, confirming that the commitment to road safety is the first of our objectives."