"I swear, there are some lousy drivers out here. But I guess if you can survive the streets of L.A., you can drive anywhere!" exclaimed my mother, as we avoided dodge swerving RVs and reckless drivers in Southern California last weekend. (I've heard this line before in many different variations — just replace Los Angeles with Atlanta or New Jersey.) She may drive slower than I prefer, but Mom can surely command a defensive driving course if she ever wanted to take up another profession.
The car-related stories of the vacation didn't end there. When my friend in Irvine picked me up to take a trip to the Getty Museum, she complained about her recent license fiasco. Apparently, she had to retake the written portion of her test when she moved back to California almost a year ago. And, unfortunately, she failed it, after seven years of experience on the open road. (And I won't lie, it took me a few tries as well). So, what am I getting at here? Their comments got me thinking about whether or not motorists in some states are just collectively worse at driving than in others. Leave it to GMAC to answer my question.
In a recent national drivers test given to licensed American drivers in every state (and D.C.), the insurance company found out that "nearly 1 in 5 licensed drivers – roughly 38 million Americans – would not pass a written drivers test exam if taken today." Wowzers. The poll only gets worse:
When analyzed regionally, the results reveal that drivers in the Northeast may not be as road-rule savvy as their Midwestern counterparts. The Northeast had the lowest average test scores (74.9 percent) and had the highest failure rate (25.1 percent). The Midwest region had the highest average test scores (77.5 percent) and the lowest failure rates (11.9 percent).
Results also indicate that the older the driver, the higher the score. Males over 45 earned the highest average test score. Males also out-performed females overall in terms of average score (78.1 percent male versus 74.4 percent female) and failure rates (24 percent female versus 18.1 percent male).
And if you'e cringing now, see where your state ranks among the rest:
- South Dakota
- New York
- New Jersey
- Washington D.C.
- Rhode Island
Between my mom and my buddy, they've "commanded" the roads of New Jersey, New York, Georgia, and California. I think you can make the assumption on their driving skills. No, really, I won't be offended!