FRIDAY, June 11, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A nod and a wink may lead to a crash and a bang in France.
A new study suggests the common French custom of using connections with people in authority to avoid paying speeding and parking fines may be linked to the high number of traffic crashes in that country.
Researchers surveyed almost 14,000 employees of the French national electricity and gas companies in 2001 about road safety and their driving behavior. More than two thirds were men aged between 53 and 63; the women were between the ages of 48 and 63.
The researchers found that one in three of the men and one in four of the women had at some time used connections to "fix" a ticket. These connections included police officers, elected politicians and secret service agents.
The study found the people who admitted to having tickets fixed were much more likely than others to drive over the speed limit in built-up areas, on rural roads, and on highways. These people were also 40 percent more likely to confess to driving after drinking alcohol and 83 percent more likely to say they used a cell phone while driving.
These ticket fixers were also much more likely to have had at least one serious traffic collision in the previous 11 years.
The study, in the current issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health notes that France has one of the highest rates of traffic collisions in Europe.
The National Safety Council has advice about defensive driving.