Proof Positive: Nearly 1 In 5 Drivers Unfit For the Road

May 26, 2011

If you’re like me, you take great delight in complaining about other drivers. There’s a guilty pleasure waiting for those of us who snipe, snarl, and generally criticize and complain about the driving habits of others. Now, we may have empirical proof that our superior driving skills are a reality.

We can grumble away knowing that nearly one in five drivers on U.S. roads are technically unfit to be behind the wheel.

The GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test polled over five thousand drivers from all 50 states. Each respondent was given 20 questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) exams. The results suggest that a surprising number of people on the road still lack basic driving knowledge, which can lead to dangerous driving habits.

Even though the overall score of the survey increased from just over 76 percent last year to almost 78 percent this year, the study reveals that one in five drivers, or nearly 40 million individuals on U.S. roads, can’t meet the basic requirements to get a driver’s license. Incredibly, 85 percent of respondents could not describe the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light. Some 25 percent were not sure of safe following distances.

Based on the GMAC Insurance test, where is the best place in the country to live? Kansas has once again placed first with the most knowledgeable drivers after achieving an 83 percent score. Washington, D.C. bumped New York State from last place with a 72 percent result. Drivers in New York and Washington, D.C. may want to be particularly wary. One out of every three respondents to the study in New York and Washington, D.C failed the test.

Are men better drivers?

The GMAC study found that one in four women failed the test. This was twice as many failures as men. If driving knowledge indicates driving skill, this means that men really are better drivers when compared to women. Overall, men scored higher than women on the test. The average score for men was 80 percent; 74 percent for women.

Contrary to what some may believe, being somewhat older is better when it comes to driving knowledge. Drivers aged between 60 and 65 had the highest scores with a 75 percent average. The Midwest achieved the highest regional score. The northeast had the worst regional score.

How will you do?

Want to take the GMAC Insurance National Driver’s test yourself to see how your driving knowledge stacks up? Go to the GMAC website. Invite your friends and see who among you rates highest. Then, you’ll have a much better idea if all your whining about other drivers has any validity. Good luck.

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