By on May 23, 2008

driving-test.jpgAnd? Who amongst us didn't totally cram for that test? Anyway, the PR stat of the day comes from "The 2008 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test" [via CNNMoney]. The gekko-less insurer extrapolated data from a survey of 5,524 drivers from across the USA to conclude that 16.4 percent (or some 33m) American drivers would fail a driver's test re-do. Their call center clones asked 20 questions from department of motor vehicle tests. Apparently, an [unrevealed] number of drivers didn't know what to do when approaching a yellow light (floor it?) or the safe following distance when you're behind another car (one car length per bumper sticker). Talking points: drivers over the age of 35 were more likely to pass; women were more likely to fail. Northeast drivers sucked even more than respondents in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Kansas drivers rock! "It's encouraging to see that scores are beginning to get better," said GMAC Insurance's VP of marketing. "But there is still a lot of room for improvement." You can take some comfort in the fact that "nearly all of the test-takers knew how to respond to an emergency vehicle with flashing lights (get out of the way), what to do when hydroplaning (freeze), and how to interpret a solid yellow line (look for cops before passing)."  

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21 Comments on “1/6 Drivers Would Flunk Written Driving Test...”

  • avatar

    I’d stay behind that damn bike, presence of significant other be damned.

    All joking aside, about 1 driver in 4 in Toronto should fail the real driving test. At least judging by the fact that that many drivers can’t even understand a 4-way stop.

  • avatar

    These are said to be real answers received on exams given by the California Department of Transportation’s driving school. I would like to hope it’s just a joke, but judging from the way some people drive, it’s probably not.

    Q: Do you yield when a blind pedestrian is crossing the road?
    A: What for? He can’t see my license plate.

    Q: Who has the right of way when four cars approach a four-way stop at the same time?
    A: The pick up truck with the gun rack and the bumper sticker saying, “Guns don’t kill people. I do.”

    Q: How can you reduce the possibility of having an accident?
    A: Be too drunk to find your keys.

    Q: What problems would you face if you were arrested for drunk driving?
    A: I’d probably lose my buzz a lot faster.

    Q: What is the difference between a flashing red traffic light and a flashing yellow traffic light?
    A: The color.

    Q: How do you deal with heavy traffic?
    A: Heavy psychedelics.

    Q: What can you do to help ease a heavy traffic problem?
    A: Carry loaded weapons.

    Q: What are some points to remember when passing or being passed?
    A: Make eye contact and wave “hello” if she is cute.

    Q: Why would it be difficult to be a police officer?
    A: It would be tough to be an idiot all day long.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    The version of the pictured question: Would you hit it?
    a. Yes
    b. No

  • avatar

    Kansas drivers rock? They must have at least answered the question wrong about the use of the left lane on a 4 lane divided highway as most think its for driving sychronized driving side by side (where the correct answer is for passing or making left turns). Or if the prime requirement of the rear of the car is to display their Jesus fish.

    Unfortunately in America we have it wrong…we think everyone has a right to drive (and make the tests so easy and do not enforce the small things such as proper use of turn signals or etiquette – when passing complete it quickly) – whereas in Europe it’s a privilege to drive after you’ve done much to prove it.

    I instruct high performance track driving and I will tell you this. Most novices I meet think they are great drivers. When we set up braking / emergency lane change / slalom / wet skid pad they realize that these basic skills are never tested until the emergency where they fail and crash. We don’t teach vision – look past the car you are tailgating while adjusting the radio while you are on the cell phone.

  • avatar

    only 16.4%?

    If that’s really true, then the exam is way too easy. Failure rates in European countries is often around 50%, and I remember when I got my American license, I was laughing at how easy the questions were.

    But given what I see on the road every day, a failure rate of 40% would seem more credible.

  • avatar

    NickR: I’d stay behind that damn bike, presence of significant other be damned.

    There’s a bicycle in the photo? Oh yea, now that you mention it, there is, isn’t there?

    Good Lord, talk about driving while distracted…

  • avatar

    According to a recent poster, driving instruction and skill are viewed as having little to do with the accident rate by the IIHS. It’s just those darn cars that cause accidents.

  • avatar

    Given the driving standards that I see day in and day out on Michigan roads (and elsewhere in the USA when I travel), I would have to say that there must be a dyslexic keyboarder at GMAC. Surely the failure rate of 16.4% should read 61.4%.

    If Americans had to take a test as difficult as the British (or European) written tests, I would have to say that the first number would flip – you’d see a 91.4% failure rate.

    As it is now in Britain, even with professional training, 57% of testees FAIL and 70% of retestees FAIL. That’s how difficult the driving licence test is.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    Here is how you pass the driver’s test:

    If it’s a multiple choice question, check the longest answer.
    If it’s True/False, check “True”.

    That’s all you need to know to pass.

    I live in Kansas.

  • avatar

    One of the problems with the (California) written test is that it involves an insane amount of trivia questions. For example “You just sold your vehicle. You must notify the DMV within ___ days.” “With a Class C drivers license a person may drive:”

    Uh…what the hell do these questions have to do with driving safely? This is the sort of stuff I can look up when I’m ready to sell my car and don’t need to know when I’m going down the freeway at a safe and reasonable speed.

  • avatar

    Frank Williams :
    May 23rd, 2008 at 8:46 am

    These are said to be real answers received on exams given by the California Department of Transportation’s driving school. I would like to hope it’s just a joke, but judging from the way some people drive, it’s probably not.

    Wow, that is great! LOL

    One good thing about gas prices going up is that the 16.4% of drivers that fail may not be able to afford to drive. :)

  • avatar
    Tommy Jefferson

    “These are said to be real answers received on exams given by the California Department of Transportation’s driving school.”

    I am a defensive driving instructor in Texas.

    Those are the exact questions from the test we give at the end of defensive driving class.

    The answers are different though. :-)

  • avatar

    @Frank Williams:

    Those are bogus. First, the DMV here in California does driver tests, not the “Department of Transportation.” Secondly, the tests are all multiple -guess, not fill in the blank.

  • avatar

    A little perspective. 1 in 6 people have IQs below 80. It’s a wonder they can tie their shoes.

    And yes Europeans, we know your Euro-Nazi governments suck, that’s why we live HERE. Quite bashing yourselves.

  • avatar

    I was behind one of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen last night on my commute home from work. During this part of my drive, I am on somewhat curvy backroads (45 mph speed limit) where it’s safe to go about 55, and you can go 65 if there are no other cars on the road and you’re feeling frisky.

    Anyway, I’m behind this guy who accelerated very slowly away from a stop sign. Then he proceeded to veer over the double yellows. Then again. Then he hit the dirt off the shoulder and kicked up a cloud of dust. All told, he left his lane either partially or fully somewhere between 12 and 15 times during a 3-4 mile stretch that I was following him. His worst transgression was when he crossed the double yellow lines, and was 3/4 into the opposing lane, only to quickly whip back into the correct lane when an oncoming vehicle approached.

    Drunk? Nope. Yapping away on his cell phone. He really did drive like a drunk driver; when I’m on the phone while driving (which is very rare), I’ve never left my lane. He must have been devoting 75% of his attention to the phone, rather than 25% or less as he should have. I wanted to kick that phone up his ass in the worst way.

  • avatar

    Start honking each time he crosses the line…

  • avatar

    The driver’s test here in Washington State is basically a MADD brochure, with an occasional question about road signs thrown in. It is completely absurd.


  • avatar

    I failed my test two times. Ridiculous amount of trivia. I cheated, too. I’m taking my 2nd driving test today. I failed the first one, too.

    It’s information no one uses, anyways.

  • avatar


    just drive the test like a grandmother would – slowly. you’ll pass.

    most of the complex european rules were designed to keep the lower clases off the roads.

    In a perfect world Insurers would test clients after all they are indemnifing them on the highway no need for a DMV at all

  • avatar

    A more rigourous parking test would help. Here in Toronto, a co-worker recently passed her driving test to my surprise and dismay. She told me that the test wasn’t that bad because when it came time to do the parallel parking, the tester said ‘Don’t bother’ (end of shift, washroom break, who knows). So, the next time you are sitting burning hydrocarbons for 20 minutes while someone makes a dozen attempts to park, you know who to thank.

  • avatar

    The only reasononly 16.4% failed is that the test is too darn easy. I know it was a long time ago, 1989, but when I took my drivers test I came in cold, not having even opened the manual the California DMV gives you to study. I got 19 out of 20 and was embarrased that I missed one, the questions were so easy.

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