Posted on 28 May 2010
The 2010 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test released on Thursday found that nearly 1 in 5 licensed drivers -- roughly 38 million Americans -- would not pass a written drivers test exam if taken today. Kansas drivers ranked first in the nation (82.3 percent average score); New York drivers ranked last (70 percent average score). Full results can be found at www.gmacinsurance.com.
The sixth annual survey polled 5,202 licensed Americans from 50 states and the District of Columbia, gauging driver knowledge by administering 20 questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) exams. Additional questions explored distracting habits such as texting while driving.
Overall, findings indicate a number of licensed Americans continue to lack knowledge of basic rules of the road; the national average score decreased to 76.2 percent from 76.6 percent in 2009. Eighty-five percent could not identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light, and many remained confused by safe following distances.
"It's discouraging to see that overall average test scores are lower than last year," said Wade Bontrager, senior vice president, GMAC Insurance. "American drivers need to make safety a top priority and be aware of the rules of the road at all times. The National Drivers Test allows everyone to brush up on their driving knowledge with a brief refresher course."
When analyzed regionally, the results reveal that drivers in the Northeast may not be as road-rule savvy as their Midwestern counterparts. The Northeast had the lowest average test scores (74.9 percent) and had the highest failure rate (25.1 percent). The Midwest region had the highest average test scores (77.5 percent) and the lowest failure rates (11.9 percent).
Results also indicate that the older the driver, the higher the score. Males over 45 earned the highest average test score. Males also out-performed females overall in terms of average score (78.1 percent male versus 74.4 percent female) and failure rates (24 percent female versus 18.1 percent male).
Additional questions from the survey reveal drivers conduct a variety of distracting behaviors behind the wheel; approximately 1 in 4 participants admitted to driving while talking on a cell phone, eating and adjusting the radio or selecting songs on an iPod. However, only five percent reported they text while driving. Overall, a significantly higher percentage of females than males reported engaging in the following distracting situations: conversation with passengers, selecting songs on an iPod or CD/adjusting the radio, talking on a cell phone, eating, applying make-up and reading.