State ranks high in driver knowledge

Results from the 2009 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test released today rank Washington drivers as 17th in the nation for their driving knowledge. The fifth annual survey, which polled 5,183 licensed Americans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is designed to gauge driver knowledge by administering 20 actual questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) exams. Washington drivers had an average score of 78.9 percent (70 percent or higher is required to pass the test), and 10.6 percent of Washington respondents failed the test. In 2008, the state ranked 9th.

The survey results found that 20.1 percent of licensed Americans — amounting to roughly 41 million drivers on the road — would not pass a written driver’s test exam if taken today. Overall, findings from the fifth annual survey indicate that the number of drivers with knowledge of basic road rules is decreasing, with this year’s test scores lower than last year’s (76.6 percent vs. 78.1 percent).

Idaho and Wisconsin drivers tied for first in the nation, with an average test score of 80.6 percent; New York drivers ranked last, with an average score of 70.5 percent. This is the second time that Idaho ranked first and the second time that New York has ranked last in the survey’s five-year history.

“We’ve seen the results ebb and flow, and this year, scores are down,” said Wade Bontrager, the senior vice president of Affinity Division, GMAC Insurance. “This reiterates the fact that each and every one of us needs to continually be brushing up on safe driving practices.”

Respondents continued to have difficulty on questions about yellow lights and safe following distances, while almost all drivers answered correctly about what a solid line meant.

The older the driver, the higher the test score. The age group with the highest failure rates was young adults (18 to 24 years old).

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