According to the 2010 GMAC Insurance National Driver’s Test, roughly one out of every five licensed American drivers (almost 38 million people) would fail a written driver’s exam taken today.
The survey of driver knowledge, which has now been running for six years, asked 5,202 drivers from every state a series of questions culled from current state Department of Motor Vehicles written exams. Some new questions were added to address issues such as distractions while driving.
The basic rules of the road proved to be a difficult subject for many of the drivers surveyed, with 85 percent of respondents unable to identify what to do when approaching a steady yellow light. Many were also unaware of safe following distances. Regionally, it was found that drivers in the Northwest had the highest failure rates, while the Midwest had the fewest failures. Drivers from New York scored the lowest on the test.
The results also showed a correlation between the age of the driver taking the test and the overall score. Males over 45 earned the highest marks, with men overall outscoring women. Females also admitted to engaging in distracting behavior while driving by a significantly higher percentage, such as conversation with passengers, selecting songs on an iPod or CD, talking on a cell phone, eating, applying make-up, and reading.