From the September 2011 issue of Claims Magazine • Subscribe!

One in Five American Drivers Unfit for the Road?

Each year, GMAC Insurance conducts a survey to determine how many American drivers would meet today’s basic requirements to obtain a driver’s license.

The results of the 2011 survey are in, and the outcome is dismal. The 7th annual GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test results projected that 18 percent of Americans—or 36.9 million people—would fail the test with a score of less than 70 percent.  

Though the average score across the country was 77.9 percent, up from last year’s 76.2-percent average, 85 percent of test takers could not identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light, and about 75 percent were unaware of safe following distances.

The results revealed some interesting statistics:

  • Kansas held the top spot for the second year in a row with an 82.9-percent average score, while Washington D.C. fell to last place with a 71.8-percent average score. This marked the first time in four years that New York did not fall to the bottom spot.
  • More than 27 percent of women failed the test, while only 13.6 percent of men failed.
  • The Midwest was dubbed the best driving region, while the Northeast was considered the worst.
  • Thirty-four percent of drivers in New York and Washington D.C. failed the test.
  • Older drivers achieved higher scores than younger drivers. However, there were strong indications that the youngest test takers, aged 16 to 24, are becoming better drivers.

The survey took into account 5,130 licensed drivers aged 16 to 65 and included participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The online exam consisted of 20 questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) exams, with regional differentiators—such as what to do when driving in a snow, eliminated to create a universal set of questions.

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