36 Million Licensed Americans Unfit To Drive According To GMAC Insurance Study

Failure Rates Double in 3rd Annual GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test

ST. LOUIS, MO. (May 24, 2007) – Results from the 2007 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test indicate that one in six drivers on the road - roughly 36 million licensed Americans - would not pass their written DMV exam if taken today. The third annual survey by GMAC Insurance gauges driver knowledge of the rules of the road by testing licensed Americans on actual questions from state DMV license exams.

According to this year's results, New York drivers ousted Rhode Island by ranking last in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on driver knowledge. Idaho, on the other hand, topped the list and dethroned Oregon's tenure at first place as the most knowledgeable drivers in the United States. While the national average score was 77.1 percent, New Yorkers had an average of 71 percent and the highest failure rates (36 percent); Idaho had an average score of 81.7 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 among all states.

"All Americans need a refresher course when it comes to basic driving rules," said Gary Kusumi, CEO and president, GMAC Insurance - Personal Lines. "Being a safe driver is about conduct, judgment and knowledge. We're hoping this year's results encourage people to arm themselves with the knowledge they need to stay safe."

Casey Mears, driver of the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, said that everyone can benefit from getting back to the basics of safe driving.

"The 2007 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test shows me that too many Americans are coming up short when it comes to knowing the rules of the road," Mears said. "Whether you're on the race track or in the real world, it's about being safe, respecting other drivers and being educated about how to handle certain situations."

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

As in every year, respondents completed 20 questions drawn from actual DMV tests. GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test respondents found two questions particularly vexing this year, driving scores down across the board. Eighty-one percent 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).

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).

Where are the most knowledgeable drivers in the nation? The following is a complete list of state rankings for the 2007 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test.

1 Idaho
2 Alaska
3 Minnesota
4 Wisconsin
5 Kansas
6 Washington
7 South Dakota
8 Montana
9 Oregon
10 Iowa
11 Nebraska
12 Wyoming
13 Oklahoma
13 Indiana
13 North Carolina
16 New Mexico
17 North Dakota
18 Missouri
19 Delaware
19 Nevada
21 Vermont
22 California
23 Hawaii
24 Texas
25 Maryland
25 Alabama
27 Arkansas
28 Michigan
29 Kentucky
30 Utah
31 Ohio
31 Colorado
33 South Carolina
33 Arizona
33 Florida
36 Maine
37 New Hampshire
37 Mississippi
37 Tennessee
40 Connecticut
41 Virginia
41 Louisiana
43 West Virginia
44 Georgia
45 Illinois
46 Pennsylvania
47 Rhode Island
48 Massachusetts
48 District of Columbia
48 New Jersey
51 New York

The test was administered by TNS, a major market information resource and the world's largest provider of custom research and analysis. TNS is also a leader in social and political polling and a top supplier of consumer panel, media intelligence and internet, and TV and radio audience measurement services. A national sample of 5,175 total licensed respondents, aged 16-60+, balanced to the latest U.S. Census data were given a 20-question test simulating the experience of taking standard written drivers test, with questions taken verbatim from DMV tests (but not state specific). For more information about TNS, please visit www.tns-global.com.

Think you're smarter than the average driver?

GMAC Insurance encourages the public to take the test at www.gmacinsurance.com. Compare your score to the national average, see how your state ranked in previous years, challenge a friend to test their skills and brush up on safe driving tips.

For more information about GMAC Insurance coverage and to find a local independent agent, call 1-888-406-6276, or visit www.gmacinsurance.com.

The GMAC Insurance Group is one of the largest automobile insurers in the United States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of GMAC. GMAC Insurance Personal Lines offers a variety of property and casualty insurance products, including personal auto, RV, motorcycle, boat and commercial auto insurance. With a nationwide network of claims professionals, local independent agents and a 24-hour, toll-free claims hotline available 365 days a year, the GMAC Insurance Group provides superior claims service for its customers.