GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test Finds 38 Million American Drivers May be Unfit for Roads

D3’s recent work with the Center for Michigan found a number of areas – particularly around education, employment and income—where Michigan ranked near the bottom.  As a result, we are always pleased to report better news—even if it’s not about our economic recovery.

Every year, GMAC Insurance asks drivers to complete a National Drivers Test to see whether they still remember the rules of the road. This year, 5,202 licensed Americans from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., completed the test. GMAC found that 18.4 percent of licensed drivers—roughly 38 million Americans—would not pass a written driver’s exam if they had to take it today.  Michigan, with a score of 79 (national average was 76.2), ranked 15th in the country.  This represented a jump of 8 spots from its 2009 ranking of 23rd.  Michigan ranked 18th in 2008, though its score was higher than that in 2010.

Among the key findings:

  • The national average score was 76.2 percent; a score below 70 percent is considered failing.
  • Average test scores in 2010 continue to show a slight trending downward, from 76.6 percent in 2009 to 76.2 percent this year and a drop of almost 2 percent from the national average in 2008 (78.1 percent).
  • With age comes wisdom: The older the driver, the higher the test score. Males over 45 earned the highest average score.
  • The average test score was significantly higher among males than females (78.1 percent male versus 74.4 percent female). Females also had a higher failure rate than males (24 percent female versus 18.1 percent male).
  • After dropping to 4th place last year, Kansas regained its 2008 number 1 ranking this year (average score of 82.3 percent); New York drivers ranked last for the third time in the survey’s six-year history (average score of 70.0 percent).
  • The Midwest region had the highest average test scores (77.5 percent) and the lowest failure rates (11.9 percent).

Questions that Confused Drivers: Seventy-three percent of drivers could not properly identify a typical safe following distance from the car in front of them (at least a two-second cushion).

Eighty-five percent of drivers did not know what to do at a traffic light displaying a steady yellow signal (stop if it is safe to do so).

Fortunately, similar to last year, nearly all respondents (97 percent) know what to do when an emergency vehicle with flashing lights approaches, what to do when hydroplaning and the meaning of a solid yellow line.

Survey Says: Drivers are Distracted

In addition to the 20-question exam, the survey explored distracting habits. These findings reveal:

  • Conversations with other passengers is the leading distraction while driving, with more than half of all drivers engaged in this activity (52 percent).
  • Approximately, a quarter of drivers admitted to talking on a cell phone, selecting songs on an iPod or CD, adjusting the radio or eating while driving their vehicle.
  • Only five percent of participants reported they text while driving.
  • The following actions were reported significantly higher among females than males: engaging in conversation with passengers, selecting songs on an iPod or CD, adjusting the radio, talking on a cell phone, eating, applying make-up and reading.

Want to take the test? Click here. Let us know how you did!