This year, in the months of June and July, a representative survey of Lithuanian drivers was conducted by UAB “Baltijos tirimai” on behalf of the Public Transport Competence Agency (TKA). 1000 car drivers in all counties of Lithuania participated in the survey. The article presents the results of a survey reflecting the behavior and habits of Lithuanian drivers.
Driving speed selection
According to the conducted survey, on highways, rural areas (not highways) and settlements, car drivers usually consider the speeds normally allowed in these areas to be safe speeds, i.e. i.e. respectively 130 km/h, 90 km/h. and 50 km/h.
Use of seat belts
One of the main ways for car drivers and passengers to protect themselves from serious injuries during traffic accidents is the use of seat belts. The benefits of wearing a seat belt are understandable to everyone, but the results of the survey show otherwise: according to traffic accident statistics for 2018-2021, there are 5.5 times more passengers killed and not wearing seat belts, and even 10 times more drivers than those killed passengers and drivers who wore seat belts .
More than half (54%) of the respondents always wear seat belts. Respondents were asked to say in which cases they do not wear a seat belt while driving, 17% of respondents did not answer this question, but 29% indicated specific cases when they do not wear a seat belt, the most common drivers mentioned such situations: when the car needs to be pulled over in the parking lot near the residence home and when parking in the parking lot, when driving near your home, when entering the garage, when you forget to fasten your seatbelt, when driving on forest roads, when you are in a hurry or in other cases (e.g. when the seat belt fastening mechanism fails or when the driver was pregnant).
In what cases do drivers not wear a seat belt while driving a car? ( % )
A survey of drivers revealed that just over a third (35%) of the passengers in the back of the car they drive always wear seat belts, while one in ten (11%) of the drivers surveyed said that the passengers in the back of the car they drive never wear a seat belt.
Use of special car seats for children
It must be remembered that some passengers are not yet able to properly take care of their own safety in the car. These passengers are children. Accident data show that the consequences of traffic accidents when using special seats are significantly milder than when not using them. 2018-2021 according to the data of traffic accidents, the number of children under 12 who were involved in a traffic accident and were not transported in seats specially adapted to their height and weight, the number of deaths and serious injuries (i.e. those who suffered serious bodily injuries and were treated in hospital) was even 4 times higher than those children who, got into a traffic accident while sitting in specially adapted car seats.
Injuries of children under 12 years of age by car seat use, 2018-2021.
After surveying the drivers, it became clear that even every second of them does not know when it is allowed to transport a child as an ordinary passenger without a special seat. In part, such a result can be understood, because this information is not relevant for drivers who do not have children, so they do not know it. But even parents with children do not always transport their children in the car seats intended for them. Only half of parents of children aged 3-12 years and 63% of children under 3 years indicated that they always put their children in a special seat adapted for them. The reasons for not sitting are various – they drive close to home, the child is held in the back seat by another adult, the child cries because of it, they do not have such a seat, they are in a hurry, or there is no room for such a seat in the car.
During the traffic safety indicators conducted by TKA, it was found that only 68.6% of children transported in child seats are fastened correctly.
Steering wheel in one hand, phone in the other, and a blurred vision in his eyes
Drivers using mobile phones are of great concern to traffic safety experts. Browsing social networks or texting while driving distracts drivers, so the reaction to changing traffic conditions is delayed, which can lead to serious consequences of traffic accidents. Addiction to mobile phones is also reflected in the conducted survey – only 38% of respondents never pick up a phone while driving a car. Most often, these people are over 50 years old, senior citizens, drivers with more than 20 years of driving experience. This group of people may not have smart mobile phones and social media profiles, they understand the risks of using the phone while driving, so they pay full attention to driving.
Three out of ten (30%) of the drivers surveyed answered that while driving, they have at least once done so while browsing the Internet or texting on their phone or other device (SMS, messaging on social networks, etc.)
Driving under the influence
Another inexcusable fault of some drivers that poses a threat to road safety is driving after consuming alcoholic beverages. Last year alone, as many as 25 road users (out of 148) died due to the fault of drunk drivers. The study revealed that even with the risk that the concentration of alcohol in their blood may exceed the permissible limit, one out of ten drivers in Lithuania has ever driven a car while intoxicated.
The survey data show that one in ten (9%) drivers in Lithuania have ever driven a car while intoxicated, when the concentration of alcohol in their blood may have exceeded the legal limit, and the absolute majority (88%) in response to this question indicated that they had never driven driving while intoxicated. 3% of respondents did not answer this question.
Cars that improve travel safety
One of the ways to reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by mistakes made by drivers and to alleviate their consequences is to use safe cars. Their safety level is determined by the Euro NCAP safety rating, where cars rated 4 or 5 stars are treated as safe cars. Cars rated in this way accounted for 59.96% of all new cars sold in 2020. More than half (53%) of the surveyed drivers in Lithuania, if they had to choose a car now, would pay attention to the car’s safety level rating with stars according to Euro NCAP studies. So it can be said that drivers care not only about the car’s power or fuel consumption, but also about safety parameters.
Road infrastructure safety in the eyes of drivers
Safe journeys are ensured not only by decisions made by drivers and other road users, safe vehicles, but also by road infrastructure. As shown in the survey conducted in June-July of this year, almost half (45%) of the surveyed drivers of the country feel safe when driving on Lithuanian roads (7% rated 5 points and another 38% rated road infrastructure safety 4 points out of 5 possible). This is influenced by roads and streets that are improved every year, and engineering safety measures are installed. It should be noted that drivers living in Šiauliai, Klaipėda, Marijampolė, Vilnius and Kaunas counties feel the safest on the roads, while drivers from Utena, Tauragė, Panevėžys and Telšiai counties feel the most unsafe.
The full survey can be found here