Survey: Many drivers are clueless

The poll found that most people don't know how to react to a yellow traffic light.

Posted by Karen Datko Friday, May 28, 2010 1:52:30 PM

This post comes from Mark Huffman at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

One reason highways are hazardous is because too many drivers don't know what they are doing, an insurance company study suggests.

 

GMAC Insurance conducted an online survey, posing 20 questions taken from state driver's-license exams. The results showed that many respondents might have flunked if it had been a real test.

For example, 85% of respondents did not know how to react to a traffic signal when the light is yellow. Others showed confusion on other questions or admitted to unsafe habits like texting while driving.

 

If the test results were averaged out nationally, the study suggests that nearly 20% of licensed drivers -- some 38 million motorists -- "may be unfit for roads" and wouldn't pass a state-issued written exam if taken today, the study said. The national average score was 76.2%, falling from 76.6% in 2009 and 78.1% in 2008.

"It's discouraging to see that overall average test scores are lower than last year," said Wade Bontrager, a senior vice president of 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."

 

Score breakdown

Where are the nation's worst drivers? Motorists from New York had the worst record on the survey, followed by drivers in New Jersey, Washington, California and Rhode Island.

Drivers in Kansas did the best, followed by Oregon, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. In general, drivers in the Midwest seemed to be the most informed about the rules of the road, while drivers in the Northeast fared worst.

 

Men over age 45 tended to score the highest, the survey shows, while men overall outscored women, who admitted to engaging in more distracting behavior while behind the wheel.

 

Lack of attention

Additional questions from the survey reveal that drivers conduct a variety of distracting behaviors behind the wheel. Approximately one in four participants admitted to driving while talking on a cell phone, eating and adjusting the radio or selecting songs on an iPod. However, only 5% 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 or adjusting the radio, talking on a cell phone, eating, applying makeup and reading.

 

More from ConsumerAffairs.com and MSN Money:

Tags: auto insurancecar insuranceConsumer Affairsinsuranceroad safety
262Comments
6/15/2010 4:50 PM
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I probably qualify as an aggressive driver.  I am just old enough to have had belly full of people behind the wheel who appear to have gotten their drivers license from a Cracker Jack box.  Just yesterday, I had the car in front of me stop in the middle of a through street and try to wave a car stopped at a stop sign on the side street through.  I have so many close calls on accidents with the other driver on a cell phone that I can't count them any more.  Sorry, but until the general population learns to drive, I will continue to use my horn and likely be labeled "aggressive." 
6/03/2010 12:19 PM
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I guess you can't even abbreviate 

"W hat The F.*"  with W.t. F here without having it censored!

6/03/2010 12:17 PM
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After reading peoples comments here,  I can see that most of the problems with american drivers is that most of them are infantile little children with inferiority complexes who absolutely refuse to follow the rules because "other people" aren't following the rules, and they either feel "cheated" when someone gets in front of them on the highway (****?-its the highway, let someone change lanes if they want to) or get angry when someone who is not on a sunday drive or possibly has an emergency passes them when they are driving the speed limit or less in the fast lane.

 

It doesn't matter what a person scores on a test:  people can study to pass tests,  yet not retain the information any longer than necessary to pass it.  I have been driving since I was 7 (on vaction in peru) and have Never been in an accident nor gotten a ticket, even though I could not tell you what was on the driving test I took 30 some years ago when- I was 15- "in order to get my license."

 

As for Illegal immigrants:  I don't know if they have insurance or licenses or what not but they are -always- driving the speed limit, always signal and always let others pass without acting agro..maybe because they are illegal and do not want to draw attention to themselves because they could be deported.  they are NEVER problematic.

 

in Oakland (CA), "gangster types" in their cadillacs and monster cars do not even slow down for the stop signs nor stoplights unless they are carrying a felony amount of drugs and then they drive the speed limit and follow all the rules.  Try to call them on it, or cut them off, and they will either follow you to where you are going and beat you up, or just shoot you right there.

 

Not to mention that you can drive 100 mph around here and the cops will PASS YOU swerving in and out of the lanes without signalling and without lights or sirens while they are talking on their cell phones or texting themselves!  I see it EVERY DAY!

6/02/2010 12:02 AM
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Drivers in Kansas and the midwest may know what they are supposed to do on the road, but they ignore those rules completely. Try driving in Topeka sometime.
6/01/2010 8:15 PM
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The headline refers to procedure at a traffic light. I was taught to stop at a red light, go on green, and proceed with caution on yellow.  Slamming on the brakes for a yellow light is just as likely to cause an accident as is standing on the gas, (however probably less serious). The online  test the article refers to says you should stop on yellow(unless you cant'?).  The proper reaction to a yellow light, like most other driving situation, depends on your speed, distance to the intersection, road conditions, traffic, vehicle capabilities, etc. and your ability to asses these and other variables. Until driving "tests", start testing driving ability, these fruitless discussions will continue. If yellow means 'stop" we don't need red, do we?
6/01/2010 6:42 PM
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Here in California you do not need a drivers license to buy a vehicle but need insurance which some folks cancel and still get to drive the vehicle.  Many of our drivers do not have licenses and many of them are here illegally.
6/01/2010 6:41 PM
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all_wrong_but_who_cares.you_dont

 

Obviously you did not visit the Facebook page Reform Driving in the United States! or if you did you did not examine it very closely. It is amazing what can be done with social media and the point of that page is to get all the people who are commenting on here and obviously want change to express that by joining (and getting others to join) and then also DONATE MONEY so lobbying and marketing can be done. The discussion board can be used to simply vent or express ideas that would be helpful. What other choices do we have? We need money to make a difference and to spread the work. Articles like this are not widespread enough. TV, radio, signs, etc...are the mediums we need to use. Don't you agree?

6/01/2010 6:24 PM
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I don't know when other states did this, but in the early 90's, Montana went from having to take the written test in order to renewing your license every two to four years (depending on your D.O.B.), to paying a fee (usually $50.00 to $100.00) no test required to renew.  Since then there has been an alarming increase in poor drivers on both the streets and highways here in Montana.  I firmly believe that we need to have the system go back to the two or four year testing requirements, this way the old adage "I didn't know." become irrelevant.  Not to mention the law enforcement officials need to enforce these traffic laws instead of letting it slide like they usually do.  These laws are in place for all of our safety, they need to be enforced in order for them to work.
6/01/2010 5:41 PM
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I'm not surprised at all by these numbers. Living in Phoenix, AZ for the past decade has taught me 3 very important rules about driving. 1. Pay attention!!!! 2. Know where you're going!!! and 3. Get out of my way!!! The wife and I joke all the time, but in actuality 90% of the "issues" we see on the road can be attributed to the first two rules (Number 3 is a joke). We've actually made a game of counting the number of people that pass by on a cell phone while we're sitting at a red light. Try it sometime... You'll either be amazed or disgusted...
6/01/2010 5:22 PM
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There are an insignificant number of drivers on the road -- as it exists today -- who are in any way qualified to drive.

 

The existing high-speed freeway system was designed by total dedicated engineering nincompoops who failed to apply even a minimal attempt at an understanding of the very considerable shortcomings of human beings and how best to bridge them.

 

The time has come a while AGO for humans to be taken from behind the wheel and replaced by autonomous automated machine drivers.  The technology of today is very nearly functionally sufficient and needs but to be commercialized for cost and reliability. 

 

Very nearly nothing needs to be done to the existing infrastructure, save to keep the lines painted ACCORDING TO SOME CONSISTENT RATIONAL RULES instead of as they are today and then kept maintained. 

 

In most if not all instances, traffic signals can be abandoned, as the vehicles will be ordered in platoons and simply pass thru one another at intersections.  Initially, that will be found scary to passengers, but it will come off without a hitch (mostly).

 

It is time to get going and to desist from killing a planeload of men, women and children every day on the streets and the highways of this nation ! ! !

.

6/01/2010 5:21 PM
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A LOT OF IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT PROPERLY INSURED, BUT A GREAT MAJORITY OF THEM DRIVE A LOT MORE CAREFULLY SINCE ANY TRAFFIC VIOLATION CAN COST THEM EVEYTHING THEY HAVE.  (YOU MAY THINK YOU KNOW)...

 

IF WE’RE REALLY HONEST WITH OURSELVES, WE CANNOT SAY THE SAME THING ABOUT CARELESS, AND SELFISH TEENAGERS AND OMG! SENIOR CITIZENS, (THEY ME BE LEGAL ALIENS) BUT CAN SURE CAUSE A LOT OF ACCIDENTS.  PLEASE! I LOVE THE OLD BUT I DON’T THINK PEOPLE OVER 70 SHOULD BE SHARING THE ROAD WITH DRUNK TEENAGERS, NOT A GOOD COMBINATION…NOT TO MENTION EVERYBODY ELSE WITH A CELL PHONE ON HAND.Open-mouthed

6/01/2010 5:20 PM
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EndlessGrowthDOOM is a consumate idiot.  STFU and GTFO.
6/01/2010 5:16 PM
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EndlessGrowthDOOM IS ANOTHER IGNORANT IN THIS COUNTRY. INMIGRANTS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM IS PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO AND I BET THAT WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING AND SOMEBODY CALL YOU YOU ANSWER THE PHONE RIGHT/ RIGHT THERE YOU GET DISTRACTED AND YOU ARE A DANGER TO EVERYBODY ELSE ON THE STREETS. RACE IS NOT THE ISSUE HERE IS THE IRRESPONSIBLE PEOPLE THAT DON'T RESPECT THE LAW.
6/01/2010 5:15 PM
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Just to clarify, we're talking about the written test here which, while it gives you the foundations to share the road, does not teach you the everyday nuances of driving well. Many of the rules of driving are true as you cross state lines and as you practice them, you realize they make sense and as a result, are a bit intuitive. For example, it makes sense that as a driver entering a highway, you're responsible for yielding to the current flow of traffic as it's much easier to stop at a slower speed than entering the highway asking other drivers at full speed to slow down.  There are others like when coming from two lane traffic into single lane, the right lane yields to the left or turning into the lane closest to you. Yada, Yada.  I've lived and learned to drive in New York City and am so surprised that New York scored the worst.  I lived in Virginia and Miami, visited countless other states and now live in New Jersey. Two places who almost never yield when entering a highway are New Jersey and Miami. These kinds of rules far surpass asking someone to recall a written test they took eons ago, it is whether or not they ever learned and practiced the rules in the first place. Miami in particular, the drivers have a lot of road rage, they're discourteous to other drivers, hate it when beeped at (even when they're clearly behaving recklessly). I have never seen more accidents resulting in fatalities as I saw there. Sure, it can be argued that there are many NY transplants in Miami, I would have to classify them as wayward lol.   New York drivers have some of the best reflexes around and reckless as we might seem to those unfamiliar, I have not seen as many body parts, totaled cars and drivers literally killing each other over accidents as I saw in Miami. At the end of the day, driving well is not about how fast you drive or how many tricks you can do the road but rather how well you avoid accidents which includes avoiding creating bad situations for other drivers to have to figure out. As an aside, it seems that anytime people are given the opportunity to comment on something, they immediately use it as an platform to spew their ignorance and hate for whichever group they designate. People are far less tolerant than they let on and it's unfortunate.
6/01/2010 4:50 PM
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no surprise i hope, especially with the masses of immigrants "allowed" to come to the US solely for the sake of economy. (not to mention they are now used to further the goal of disunification of the nation/people). the big business folks running this country only care about one thing- economy.  their great idea right now is to "import" consumers/taxpayers... while quality of life will continue to suffer.

although all "immigrants" are problematic, whether from out of country, state, or city. there is no common group intelligence among the drivers on the road. it's just that drivers from other country's have a COMPLETELY different mind when it comes to driving- we are not all equal especially thanks to differing social environments.

6/01/2010 4:43 PM
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Not surprised at all by the findings. Truly, most people on the road today have absolutely NO CLUE what a turn signal is, what a solid line means, how to merge, or tons of other basic driving knowledge. The best part is that they probably believe they are GOOD drivers!! I truly enjoy when they get indignant that their garbage driving skills upset others.

 

These people should have been picked off by packs of wolves in the olden days but, unfortunately, they are still around to menace everybody else on the road

6/01/2010 4:40 PM
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thats sad im not even old enough to have to take a driving test im under 15 and i scored a 90 on this test!
6/01/2010 4:34 PM
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None of this surprises me. I drive in the boston area and suburbs and have seen the worst driving ever increase over the years. Its a Me First attitude out there and This Phone Call Im On is way more important than just flicking on my blinker to let you pee-ons behind me know which way im going. The newest triple threat?? Chinese women on the phone and driving a SUV. Now youre in trouble! Oh and by the way.. Cell phone companies could easily make a phone that doesnt allow texting if a GPS device showed that it was travelling faster than say.. 30 Mph, but will they? No, because no one will buy that phone.. they would rather be dead than not be able to text and drive.
6/01/2010 4:33 PM
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I believe it many times I was in situations and many thought I was to blame. Turned out not my fault I have seen many drivers on their cellphones ..I always had a headset. Every accident I have been involved in was not my fault but they were the dumbest accident I have ever seen in my life. SO trying not to toot my own horn but Man people can be dumb.
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