Saturday, May 28, 2011

Car driver knowledge worries me and my motorcycle riding friends

A sobering article in the NY Times about US drivers' rules knowledge. Repeated here w/o permission. Click the title for the original.

What to Do at a Yellow Light? And Other Things American Drivers Don’t Know

If required to take a written drivers’ test today, nearly one in five licensed drivers would not pass, according to results of the 2011 GMAC Insurance National Driver’s Test. This translates to 36.9 million American drivers, or 18 percent of the country’s total licensed motorists, who lack knowledge of some basic rules of the road — a conclusion that probably won’t surprise many drivers.

When asked what a motorist should do when approaching a steady yellow traffic light, 85 percent could not identify the correct action. Meanwhile, according to the survey, only 25 percent of respondents understood the concept of a safe following distance.

This is the seventh annual survey by GMAC, one of the largest automobile insurers in the United States. What little good news the survey bore was modest. The average survey score of all drivers increased from 76.2 percent in 2010 to 77.9 percent this year.

While many New Yorkers would contest this finding, the Empire State no longer ranks last, moving to 45th place after three consecutive years as the lowest performer on the survey, scoring a cumulative 75.3 percent. The District of Columbia now carries the dubious distinction, scoring 71.8 percent. Still, there’s precious room at the bottom: one out of three of all drivers in New York and Washington failed the test.

Men also performed better than women on the survey, earning an average score of 80.2 percent, while women recorded 74.1 percent.

This year’s survey polled 5,130 licensed drivers ages 16-65, from 50 states and the District of Columbia, and gauged driver knowledge by administering 20 questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles exams.

Licensed or unlicensed, anyone can take the survey at GMAC’s Web site, but be prepared to provide your name and e-mail address to view your score, and be aware that the box to receive marketing and promotional information is automatically checked.

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