The association of Italian municipalities, ANCI, has commissioned a survey regarding the way Italians drive and the results show that drivers here are pretty much as we know them to be: undisciplined and inclined to break the law.
The most amusing thing about the survey, is that the majority of the drivers polled gave themselves vey high marks for driving, an average of 7.9 which in the Italian grading system is the equivalent of a B or B+. The survey showed that among the capitals of Euope, Rome had the highest mortality rate for road accidents. Not a good record but on the other hand, other Italian cities were  even worse. The highest fatality rate was registered in the Sicilian city of Catania; the lowest, in Genoa.
According to the survey, which used a sample of 1000 people between the ages of 18 and 60 years of age. Asked to what extent they obeyed the motor vehicle code, only 17% said they always respected the law. Another 37% consider themselves to be slightly undisciplined, and more than half admitted they often broke the law, although this was truer of men (surprise, surprise) than of women.
Only 41% of those queried said they always respected speed limits, 49% said they sometimes broke the speed limit, and nine percent said they never paid any attention to road speeds and only four our of ten in the latter group thought excess speed was dangerous. The current blood alcohol limit in Italy is now 0.5%, the equivalent of two drinks for a normal sized man, and yet over 50% say they drive after drinking more than that
In Italy, unlike elsewhere, it is against the law to use your cellphone without an ear piece and yet - as anyone who drives here knows - 60% of drivers say they do not use the earphones (here called an auricolare), 50% said they read text messages while driving and 33% (help!!!) say they write text messages while driving. Of course, this is just one more indication that Italian police do not regularly stop and/or fine drivers behaving this way - which also means losing 5 points on your license - otherwise many would stop doing it.  (And what to say about motorbike drivers who talk on the phone although that means having only one hand on the handlebars?????)
In honor of full disclosure, I confess that I have occasionally made calls on my cellphone while driving (but I have never texted) and have occasionally exceeded the speed limit on four or six-lane roads here that look like highways but have a 90 km speed limit instead of the 130 limit on the autostrade toll roads. I have had two speeding tickets in 25 years and (knock on wood) no accidents. What I do do is always maintain safety distances (most Italian drivers seem physically unable to do this) and use my directional signals (the lack of which represents another major Italian driving fault). And what I do not EVER do and the thing I hate the most, are those speeding cars, well-over the speed limit, that come up behind you in the highway fast lane, ignoring all safety distances, and flashing their headlights, as if their hurry was more important than yours. Since the Italian police do not patrol highways - they use electronic speed traps - there is no way to get recourse against such reckless driving. And tailgating is a fineable offense here only if it causes an accident (although for insurance purposes,anyone who rear ends you is always at fault).
By the way, according to statistics compiled by the European Road Safety Observatory, in 2006 there were 238,000 injuries from road accidents in Italy, more than in any other of the 15 Eurpean Union countries. The same year, there were over 5500 deaths. But those numbers appear to have since declined.