Car culture: what drivers from different countries do in their cars

New research shows your native car culture affects how you spend time in the car

Twenty-nine thousand, seven hundred and fifty hours, or in other words, around three years and four months. That’s how long the average British driver is estimated to spend in their car over a lifetime, according to data from Citroen. But how does our car culture compare to that of our European cousins?

Your guide to driving abroad on holiday

Advertisement - Article continues below

To find out, the car maker surveyed thousands of drivers across seven European countries to see how they spend their time inside their cars as part of its new brand campaign – ‘Citroen Inspired by You’. Auto Express was given exclusive access to the data, with everything from how many hours we spend eating and drinking, arguing and even romancing laid bare. Take a look and see if you match any national stereotypes.  

United Kingdom

19,486Spent driving
10,264Spent as passenger

Things UK drivers do most in their cars

6,538Thank another driver
3,974Talk to yourself

Number of hours motorists in the UK were also found to spend...

2,643Kissing someone
1,881Eating a meal
936Shaving or applying make up
87Searching for their car after forgetting where they parked

Brits are among the most courteous drivers in Europe, spending on average 6,538 hours over our lifetime thanking other motorists. We also see our cars as more than just modes of transportation, spending plenty of time eating, drinking and even shaving inside them.


25,693Spent driving
7,757Spent as passenger

Things German drivers do most in their cars

3,611Listen to loud music
3,393Greet someone
3,240Thank another driver

Number of hours motorists in Germany were also found to spend...

1,077Eating a meal
812Kissing someone
130Asking others for directions
129Shaving or applying make up
56Sleeping in their car

Germans spend over 6,000 hours more in their car than us Brits, but they spend far less time than us thanking other motorists. Drivers in Germany clearly have a more dry view of their cars, too, spending less time eating and drinking or kissing someone than us.


23,064Spent driving
10,179Spent as passenger

Things French drivers do most in their cars

4,513Thank another driver

Number of hours motorists in France were also found to spend...

2,953Eating a meal
458Spilling a drink
99Braking abruptly to avoid an accident
70Searching for their car after forgetting where they parked

When it comes to eating and drinking in a car, France is one of the top countries. Drivers also spend 458 hours spilling and cleaning up drinks. While France is seen as a country of romance, motorists spend just 2.60 hours romancing in a car – less than even Brits, who spend 3.4 hours.


24,720Spent driving
10,222Spent as passenger

Things Spanish drivers do most in their cars

2,994Thank another driver
2,925Listen to loud music

Number of hours motorists in Spain were also found to spend...

1,690Kissing someone
610Shaving or applying make up
92Sleeping in their car
4Making love in their car
3.5Arguing with their mechanic about servicing costs

The car culture in Spain ensures that Spanish drivers spend some of the longest time asleep in their car, but among the least amount of time shaving or applying make up. Drivers also spend the least time thanking drivers, while also passing more hours making love than questioning their mechanics.


31,410Spent driving
17,904Spent as passenger

Things Italian drivers do most in their cars

4,797Listen to loud music
4,132Kiss someone

Number of hours motorists in Italy were also found to spend...

3,396Eating a meal in their car
2,303Shaving or putting on make up
202Arguing with someone
132Searching for their car after forgetting where they parked
7.6Making love

When it comes to personal relationships the Italians cannot be topped. They spend the most time kissing other people in their car as well as having fun in the back. They’re also known for sharing their meals in a car while shaving and applying make up is far from uncommon, too.


22,728Spent driving
12,163Spent as passenger

Things Portuguese drivers do most in their cars

6,918Greet someone
6,596Thank another driver

Number of hours motorists in Germany were also found to spend...

1,872Searching for items underneath the seats
980Car pooling
352Shaving or applying make up
254Braking to avoid a crash
5.2Making love

Portuguese drivers spend more time than most in Europe braking abruptly to avoid a collision. They were also found to be happier than most to ask for directions, as well as share their car with others. Applying make up and shaving ranks low for Portuguese drivers, though.


23,251Spent driving
11,252Spent as passenger

Things Polish drivers do most in their cars

4,042Thank another driver
3,976Listen to loud music

Number of hours motorists in Poland were also found to spend...

243Spilling a drink
80Sleeping in their car
59Arguing with another driver
44Searching for their car after forgetting where they parked
1.9Making love

Despite spending a lot of time sleeping in their cars, Polish drivers do it alone, passing just 1.90 hours back-seat romancing across their lifetime. Other nationalities spend lots more time figuring out where they parked their cars, Polish drivers must have better memories.

Do you follow your national stereotype, or do you buck the trend? Let us know below!


Most Popular


Ford offers six-month payment holiday for new customers

Anyone buying a new Ford on finance in April or May won’t have to pay anything for six months; online Ford dealerships still open
7 Apr 2020
Mazda MX-5

New Mazda MX-5 2020 review

The popular Mazda MX-5 has been updated for 2020, but with the changes comes a jump in price
5 Apr 2020
Volkswagen Tiguan

Facelifted Volkswagen Tiguan spotted testing undisguised

The updated Volkswagen Tiguan will go on sale later this year, with a new PHEV powertrain and fresh panelling inspired by the Golf hatchback
7 Apr 2020