Driver survey: 1 in 11 motorists flunk the basics

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On a sample written driver’s test, Northeast drivers scored the worst, Pacific Northwest and Midwest drivers scored the best, and one in 11 drivers nationwide failed. For the second consecutive year, Oregon drivers tested highest and Rhode Island the lowest on the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test. On a 100-point scale, Oregon motorists averaged 91 and Rhode Island motorists 75. A score of at least 70 is required to pass a standard driver’s test, so nearly half the Rhode Island drivers failed.

Northeast state failure rates were 16 percent or greater, while Pacific Northwest and Midwest state failure rates ranged from 1 percent to 7 percent. Washington state drivers scored second best, followed by Vermont, Idaho and South Dakota. After Rhode Island, the District of Columbia ranked second worst, followed by Massachusetts and New Jersey tied for third worst.

GMAC used a sample of 5,288 license holders, their ages ranging from 16 to senior citizens. They took a 20-question test representative of a written driver’s test used for a permit or license. “The rules of the road should not be something you learn once when you are 16 years old,” says Gary Kusumi, president and chief executive officer of GMAC Insurance Personal Lines.

Respondents fared especially poorly regarding pedestrians: A third usually do not stop for pedestrians, even if they’re in a crosswalk or at a yellow light; and 20 percent didn’t know pedestrians have the right of way at a crosswalk. Many respondents also were guilty of engaging in distracting behaviors while driving: Forty-two percent eat, 40 percent talk on cell phones, 24 percent send text messages, and 8 percent actually change clothes while driving. Take the test for yourself at