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TNS Emor: Use of motor vehicles in Estonia does not yet reach the Western European level

Tallin (Estonia), February 8, 2007 - Even though Estonians consider the use of motor vehicles high in their home country, the survey commissioned by the European Commission shows that similarly to other new EU member states, the number of people in Estonia with a drivers licence is significantly below the European average.

71 % of Europeans on the average have a drivers licence, in Estonia 54 % of the citizens have a drivers licence (incl. 12 % who have a drivers licence but who hardly ever drive). The share of citizens with a drivers licence is even smaller in Poland (49 %), Lithuania (48 %), Hungary (48 %) and Latvia (41 %).

Unfortunately Estonia is also at the bottom of the list when it comes to the description of automotive fleet. In Europe, 46 % of respondents on the average have purchased their mainly used car new.

In terms of this, there are drastic differences in the breakdown of countries. Spain, Greece and Luxembourg are on the top, 77 %, 75 % and 74 % of inhabitants correspondingly have purchased their car new in those countries. At the bottom of the list are the three Baltic countries. In Estonia 18 % of respondents have purchased their car new, in Latvia 11 % and in Lithuania only 4 %. The corresponding average of EU member states is 31 %.

Considering those numbers, it is not a surprise our Southern neighbours stand out among other countries with their aging fleet - the total of 72 % of mainly used cars in Lithuania and 62 % in Latvia are older than 10 years. Estonia is third in this list but the results are significantly better compared to our neighbours - 43 % of the used cars are older than ten years. Estonia is followed by Poland and Finland, where the share of cars old as that is 43 % and 30 % correspondingly. At the same time, in Ireland only 4 % of inhabitants drive cars older than 10 years.

According to TNS Emor project manager Triinu Ojala, there is still one indicator that puts Estonia at the top half of the list: compared to the EU average, there are considerably more drivers in Estonia who evaluate their annual mileage to be more than 20 000 km - the total of 30 %. The corresponding average in Europe is 15 %. This result puts Estonians into second place after Greeks.

Besides describing the fleet and drivers of European countries, Eurobarometer survey concentrated this time on the safety issues of vehicles. There are more than 1,4 million traffic accidents each year in Europe, killing the total of 40 000 and injuring 1,7 million people. In addition to improving the quality of roads, developing public transport and increasing the environmental friendliness of cars, serious attention is paid to implementation of the safety systems of vehicles and increasing awareness of them.

When asked, what they pay attention to when choosing between different models in addition to price, 54 % of Europeans chose safety, followed by fuel consumption - 53 %. In Estonia, only 33 % of car buyers would pay attention to safety. This is the lowest percentage in the European Union! Granted, the awareness of our Southern neighbours is approximately on the same level.

The majority of Estonians are willing to use different safety systems (ten different systems were described in the interview, incl. anti-lock breaking system, ESP, blind spot warning system, directional headlamps, collision warning system, lane departure warning system and speed warning etc.) if producer have added them to the cars but at the same time Estonians are not aware of the prices and service charges of the systems. In the opinion of European citizens, the price and service charges were the obstacles to using the safety systems. The responsible Finns also stood out with their fear that these things would diminish the driver's vigilance, creating an artificial feeling of being protected.

Within the frames of the Eurobarometer survey "Use of Intelligent Systems in Vehicles", the survey companies in the TNS group interviewed over 15-year-old citizens of EU member states and candidate states. In Estonia, TNS Emor is responsible for Eurobarometer surveys.

European Commission's Directorate General Communication deals with publishing and commenting on the Eurobarometer survey results and all survey results are available on the following European Commission web page


Triinu Ojala
TNS Emor
Project Manager

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