2007 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test Executive Summary

As Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the summer driving season, a new study shows that 36 million drivers may not be fit for the roads. For the third year in a row, the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test shows that too many licensed drivers lack basic driving knowledge. A pool of survey participants representative of the US Census drawn from all 50 states and the District of Columbia completed 20 questions taken from actual written DMV tests. The results were eye opening: If retested today, one in six drivers would fail the test required to get a license.

Key Findings

  • Failure rates doubled: Nearly 18 percent of respondents failed the 2007 National Drivers Test, up from nine percent in 2006.
  • Stumper questions: 81 percent of respondents couldn't identify the proper following distance from the car in front of them (correct answer: two-seconds). Even more (84 percent) couldn't identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light (correct answer: stop if it is safe to do so).
  • Rankings upset: Idaho dethroned Oregon's tenure at first place as the most knowledgeable drivers (average score of 81.7 percent), while New York drivers ousted Rhode Island by ranking last with an average of 71 percent and the highest failure rates (36 percent).
  • The national average score was 77.1 percent.
  • In general, geographical regions ranked similarly to previous years, with Arkansas, Minnesota, Kansas and Wisconsin ranking in the top five and New Jersey, Washington, DC, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the bottom five.

For Americans, Yellow Means Go ... And Age Matters

Other points of interest drawn from the 2007 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test include:

  • With Age Comes Wisdom: The older the driver, the higher the test score. Drivers 35+ years old were most likely to pass.
  • More than half of respondents (55 percent) don't know how many feet to signal before making right or left turns.
  • More than 2 in 5 drivers (46 percent) are unaware of the meaning of a diamond-shaped sign (warning sign).
  • Fortunately, nearly all respondents (98 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: Geography Means Everything

  • Illinois, Georgia, DC, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts were the least knowledgeable states overall, with average scores lower than 75 percent.
  • Idaho and Alaska were the most knowledgeable, with average scores over 81 percent.
  • Regions displaying the highest failure rates were the South Atlantic (20.8 percent) and New England (15.7 percent).