Driving this weekend? 1 in 5 American drivers inept on the road

GMAC study says 37 million American drivers would not pass a written drivers test

These stats are scary, though not surprising if you do any amount of driving: 1 in 5 drivers on the road today cannot meet the basic requirements to get a driver's license, meaning that nearly 37 million American drivers - roughly 18%- would not pass the written drivers test if taken today.

Those stats come courtesy of the 2011 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test that showed drivers in Kansas ranked best in the nation while drivers in Washington, D.C. were worst. In fact, GMAC said 1 of 3  of all drivers in New York and Washington, D.C. failed the test. The state with the lowest percentage of failures is Wyoming, with only 1 of 20 failing the test.

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The 2011 test gauged driver knowledge by administering 20 questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles exams.

According to GMAC the average score of all drivers did increase from 76 % in 2010 to almost 80% this year, but results suggest that a great number of people on the road still lack basic driving knowledge, which can lead to dangerous driving habits. Eighty-five percent could not identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light, and only a quarter were aware of safe following distances, GMAC stated. 

The seventh annual survey polled 5,130 licensed drivers ages 16-65, from 50 states and the District of Columbia. The test was administered online by researchers at TNS. National data was weighted to percentage of state population, age, gender and ethnicity, GMAC said.

Some other interesting results from the GMAC test:

  • If driving knowledge is any indication of driving habits, men are better drivers than women. 1 in 4 women failed the test (27.2 percent versus 13.6 percent for male). Overall, males out-performed females with an average score of 80 versus 74 percent for females.
  • Northeast is worst driving region with average scoring at 74.%. Midwest is best driving region with average scoring at 77.5%.
  • The older the wiser. Oldest drivers tested, ages 60-65, continued to have the highest average test scores.
  • Biggest gains and losses: After ranking 24th place in 2010, Colorado moves to third place with an 82% average score. Arkansas plummeted 30 spots from tenth place in 2010 to 40th place this year. Their average test score decreased from a 79.8% average to a 76% average.

You can try the National Drivers Test here if you want to see where you rank.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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