as an american in europe, i would have to say that europeans are immensely more attentive drivers than those in the states. just some things i've noticed...
1. our cars over here (central/eastern europe) are generally smaller and stop on a dime in comparison to the behemoths found on american streets, decreasing the necessary buffer zone. as a result, people are very used to driving in tight spaces at full speed, and drive in a constant state of alert/awareness. this is beneficial for motorcyclists.
1b. in and around cities, drivers over here don't generally take themselves out of the driving experience with dvd players, sandwiches, starbucks, etc. i have yet to see a real set of cup holders in a european car (outside of a bentley or bmw 7-series).
1c. it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving a car, unless you are using a hands-free headset.
2. the percentage of motorcycle drivers in congested, ancient european cities is much higher than in american cities, which means that people are more aware of motorcyclists. e.g., half of the doctors i work with are daily-commute bikers.
3. lane-splitting is legal, and every driver learns this fact in compulsory drivers' education (meaning that they look for mopeds and motorcycles before lane changing. they keep us in mind, even if they resent us).
4. for economic reasons i suppose, 99.9 percent of the cars here are manual transmission shifters (and most without cruise), meaning that the drivers are actively driving, and not being allowed to zone out. try talking on a cell phone and changing gears at the same time while navigating heavy traffic.
just my 2 cents, mateys,