June 1, 2011

The results of a recent study made us think of our first day in law school. The tradition was for the toughest-of-tough law professors to get up during orientation and, scowling, admonish the fresh-faced kids: “Look to your left! Look to your right! One of you won’t be here next year!” The study said that 1 in 5 American drivers were not capable of passing the written drivers test if they took it today.

In Oregon, that translates into about 52,500 drivers sharing the road with you who do not meet the basic requirements to get a license. Think about that the next time you see a motorcycle or car accident.

The survey is the 7th Annual GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test. The insurer polled more than 5,000 licensed drivers from every state and the District of Columbia, all between ages 16 and 65. The test’s 20 questions were drawn from various states’ Department of Motor Vehicle Exams.

Neither Oregon nor Washington held the top — or the bottom — spot. Kansas came in with the high average score of 82.9. The District of Columbia came in with the lowest score — 71.8 percent. Nationally, the average score improved slightly, from 76.2 percent in 2010 to 77.9 percent this year.

But if you think about the scores and not the rankings, the results are disconcerting. Overall, American drivers get a solid C+. The best score is a solid B-. Somehow, these feel a little low — especially when you consider that only 25 percent of the respondents knew that the safe following distance (under most road conditions) is a) 3 seconds, b) 10 seconds or c) 20 seconds?

Continued in our next post.

Source: GMAC Insurance, “7th Annual Survey Shows Kansas Drivers Remain Most Knowledgeable, Washington, D.C. Ranks Last,” 05/26/2011


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