Road user behaviour observatory

Behaviours are observed by a specialised company on behalf of ONISR. They survey the use of seat belts, the use of helmets for motorcyclists and cyclists, the use of telephones while driving and vehicle occupancy. Observations were suspended between 2013 and 2015.

Behavioural observations resumed in 2016 after three years of interruption; the methodology has slightly evolved to include new categories of users (wearing seat belts in front of light commercial vehicles, wearing helmets by cyclists in urban areas). The main conclusions for 2018 are as follows.

This year, children buckle up less on motorways, but more in cities

Seat belt use by car occupants is broadly stable compared to the previous year; the only significant variations observed are a 2 point decrease (from 92% to 90%) in rear seat belt use on connecting motorways, and a 2 point increase in seat belt use at the rear in large urban areas. Outside urban areas, seat belt use is around 99.3% at the front and 90% at the rear on motorways; in large urban areas, the values are 98.3% and 87% respectively. The comparison between working days and weekends does not show any significant difference except for the wearing of seat belts in rear seats on motorways, which is 10 points lower for adults and 14 points for children at weekends, and almost identical in front seats in large cities. For utility vehicle users, the observed wearing rate in front seats is 95.1% outside urban areas and 91% in urban areas, values much lower than those observed for passenger vehicles.

In France mainland, helmets are generally worn well with powered-two wheelers, much less but on the rise with pedal cyclists.

The use of helmets by powered-two wheelers is almost universal inside and outside urban areas. Inside urban areas, only 5 out of the 503 users observed in 2018 did not wear a helmet. Helmet use by cyclists in urban areas, also observed since 2016 is 22% on working days in 2018, on the rise since 2016. It's stable at 27% on weekends.

Phones less likely to be heard

Observations of phone seem to show a general decrease in 2018, exclusively because of a lower use of the telephone by ear. The rate of use by motorists varies from 3.2% to 4.1% depending on the type of road network. The proportion of motorists with the phone in their hands but not on the ear doubles in large cities. The use of telephones or earphones is 5.9% and 5.2% outside urban areas respectively for drivers of light commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles, and 8% for drivers of light commercial vehicles in urban areas. Finally, 5.7% of cyclists observed in large urban areas wore a handset, earset or headset.

Between 1.4 and 1.6 people per vehicle, we travel together more during weekends

The observatory also counts the occupants of the vehicles, thus making it possible to estimate an average occupancy rate. For passenger vehicles, it is in the order of 1.4 to 1.6 depending on the road network (higher on motorways), slightly higher than in 2017. It is higher during weekends than on working days whatever the network type.