One third of people in Italy don’t wear seatbelts, study finds

Italian motorists and their passengers are far more prone to risky behaviour than their European counterparts, a new report suggests.

One third of car users in Italy don’t use seatbelts, according to a new study.
One third of car users in Italy don’t use seatbelts, according to a new study. Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

Almost one third of car users in Italy, or 28.8 percent, don’t use seatbelts when driving or riding as passengers in cars, according to new figures published in the report User Driving Styles Observatory Research (Ricerca Osservatorio Stili di Guida Utenti), produced by engineering and architecture firm Studio Righetti and Monte.

That rate increases to 31.9 percent for front car passengers; and rises to a shocking 80.1 percent if you take into account only rear passengers.

READ ALSO: Italy launches e-scooter clampdown and bigger fines for phone-using drivers

The study, commissioned by state-owned road management company ANAS, analysed the driving habits of a sample of 6,000 users along three different types of Italian roads and motorways.

It found that 55.6 percent of drivers on Italian roads do not use their indicators when overtaking, and as many as 76.5 percent don’t indicate when moving back into the slow lane.

Approximately half (49.5 percent) of motorists do not use child booster seats, while just over one in ten (12.4 percent) illegally use their mobile phone while driving – a figure that jumps to 18 percent among 18 to 40-year-olds.

Italy’s government says it has allocated over 3 billion euros for road improvements.

Italy’s government says it has allocated over 3 billion euros for road improvements. Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Italy compares poorly to other European countries, the study says, where an average of 90% of motorists wear front seat belts and 71% of passengers wear rear seat belts.

The findings were presented on Sunday at a road safety conference timed to coincide with the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which takes place every year on the third Sunday in November, reports news agency Ansa.

Speaking at the conference on Sunday, Italy’s Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility Enrico Giovannini described the figures as “totally unsatisfactory” and said more road safety training was necessary, reports national broadcaster Rai.

READ ALSO: ‘Anyone can do it’: Why passing your Italian driving test isn’t as difficult as it sounds

The minister stressed that the government has allocated more than three billion euros to make improvements to Italian roads and motorways, and said it was providing financial incentives to manufacturers to make more new cars and for families to purchase recent second hand car models, noting that many vehicles on Italy’s roads are old and lack adequate safety features.

Earlier this month, Italy’s government updated the country’s Highway Code, with new sanctions for drivers caught using tablets and other electronic devices besides cell phones and stricter rules about giving way to pedestrians included among the reforms.

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Driving in Italy: What is a ‘Telepass’ and how do you use it?

If you drive in Italy, you'll likely see large yellow 'Telepass' signs on motorways and at car parks. Here's everything you need to know about using the transport pass.

Driving in Italy: What is a 'Telepass' and how do you use it?

Getting around Italy by car might not be the most sustainable mode of transport, but for those hard-to-reach places and medieval hilltop villages, a private set of wheels is sometimes a necessity.

READ ALSO: ‘Expect the unexpected’: What you need to know about driving in Italy

Plus, if you’re a resident in a remote location, public transport may be sparse or even non-existent.

Whatever your reason for driving around Italy, you’ll likely spot the so-called ‘Telepass’ scheme at motorway toll points and in car parks.

It can be a handy, faster and cheaper way to use Italy’s roads and parking spaces – and it’s expanded to cover more travel services like taxis and trains too.

Here’s an overview of what you need to know about the system, whether you’re a visitor or a resident.

What is a Telepass?

Italy’s motorways are a network of toll roads. How much you pay depends on how much of the motorway you use, calculated by where you enter and exit.

You can take a ticket and pay when you exit the motorway, or you can use a Telepass.

The Telepass is best known as a device that you stick in your car or on your motorbike, which lets you pass through motorway tolls without queuing or the need to stop and pay with cash or card.

If you have a Telepass, you can drive to dedicated lanes where the sign is displayed and you’ll see yellow lines and sometimes a yellow ‘T’ on the road. You can drive right through once you hear the beep on the device.

The Telepass allows quick entry and exit of motorways. (Photo by PACO SERINELLI / AFP)

That sound means your entry or exit has been registered and the barrier will lift allowing you to pass through.

You pay a monthly subscription for the device, starting from around €1 per month – although some plans offer the first six months for free, while the charges you incur while driving will be added to that fee.

Once you sign up, the Telepass will be sent out to your home address.

If you don’t want to pay monthly, for example if you’re just visiting Italy, there is a pay-as-you-go option too with a one-off activation charge of €10.

There is also an accompanying app which lets you see the charges and track your expenses.

For more details on the pass and the app in English, see here.

Where can you use a Telepass?

Aside from the motorway function, you can also use the Telepass for various other driving services, such as car parks, accessing ferries and paying congestion fees like Milan’s ‘Area C’ traffic restricted area.

In car parks and on some street parking, you may see the Telepass function displayed in its usual blue and yellow signage.

If you see this sign, it means you can go towards the barrier, you’ll hear the beep and you can enter the car park. On exiting, the exact time you’ve spent there will be calculated and charged.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How do you dispute a parking ticket in Italy?

A motorway toll showing cash, card and Telepass lanes. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP

You may also see them at airports when you go to drop off or pick up passengers – and again, in some of their car parks too.

The same system applies, where your time will be automatically calculated and you can enter and exit without a ticket or paying at a machine.

The system has widened its services to cover a raft of transport options, such as paying for train tickets and taxis, paying for fuel, paying your car tax, booking scooters to get around cities and bike sharing.

Telepass also offers scooter sharing services with the app. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

For a full list of their services in English, see here.

There is also a European version of the Telepass which can be used similarly in France, Spain and Portugal. There are plans to expand its use to additional European countries in future.

“The Europe device gives you access to the Autostrada in Europa service so you will be able to travel freely by car or motorcycle without barriers or borders,” the official website says.

You can sign up for this service for a €6 activation fee, with usage charged monthly. Find more details about it here.

Are there any alternatives to the Telepass?

The Telepass system has enjoyed its monopoly within Italy for more than 30 years, but just a few weeks ago a rival competitor launched a similar product – Unipol’s ‘UnipolMove’.

It replicates the Telepass function by means of a device – again, a type of small box that you put in your car or on a motorbike.

The UnipolMove allows automatic payment of motorway tolls through dedicated lanes and an ID system that communicates with the barrier, just like the Telepass.

Paying for the device and charges are currently restricted to Italian IBAN numbers though, so the Telepass currently has wider appeal for international drivers.

READ ALSO: How visitors to Italy can avoid driving penalties

Unipol’s packages aren’t yet as diverse as those of the Telepass, as you may expect. Due to its recent launch, there is only one type of contract for the UnipolMove, whereas Telepass offers various packages.

The monthly fee is competitive at €1 per month, but at the moment it’s free for the first 6 months.

This new product also offers other services aside from motorway tolls, such as car parking and congestion charge functions.

For more details on the new UnipolMove, currently only in Italian, see here.

For more information on driving around Italy, visit our travel section for the latest updates.