Unfit Bank Calls 41m Americans "Unfit Drivers"
May 21st, 2009 4:56 PM Share
Would you like to supersize your irony with that, sir? Having received one bailout, flunked a stress test, now in line for another $7.5b, GMAC knows the meaning of the word “unfit.” And their recent Insurance National Drivers Test shows that 20 percent of American drivers, some 41m people, are a danger to themselves and the financial system. I mean others. Idaho, Wisconsin, Montana and Kansas top the states in “basic road rules” test results. New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and California’s drivers averaged the worst scores. According to GMAC, 5,000 licensed Americans were asked 20 actual questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles exams. Anyone changing their mind about speeding?
Published May 21st, 2009 4:56 PM
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Pleb, I did pretty well on the UK test as did my wife. Not bad, considering we haven't lived in the UK for 16 years and we're Americans. I moved there 23 years ago and 22 years ago, I had to take the UK test. The DVLA wouldn't let me turn in my Colorado driver's license for a UK driving licence, and I had to "re-learn" from scratch (which meant putting ego completely at rest). Passed first time. Bastards took 6 months to schedule my road test and scheduled it ONE DAY before my Colorado license was considered "no good any more" in the UK. Showed them. Passed first time. Fully 57% of driver's DON'T and fully 70% of re-testees DON'T.
I live in Wisconsin (unfortunately). If Wisconsin is among the best in "basic road rules" test results, I'd sure as hell hate to see what drivers in other states are like. Nobody knows when to yield the right of way at a four way stop around here. Nobody knows that when there's a solid yellow center line, it means don't pass. A lot of people don't know how to use a roundabout, which are just starting to appear around here. Nobody knows how to read road signs..."This lane exit only"-I've seen people ignore this one on the highway so many goddamned times and then dangerously cut over into the other lane at the last possible second. Nobody seems to know that tailgating the hell out of someone won't get them to their destination any faster. Many days I've driven around here (Appleton-Neenah-Menasha area) and wondered, "Am I the only individual out here that knows how to drive?! This is unbelievable!" I could go on and on and on and on... End of rant.
...yet still if you look at the driving standards in the UK, they are far from stellar. I got my driving licence in Slovenia and my old man insisted I go for truck, as a car licence would be included automatically. The first step was a psychological attitude test, to determine, whether to trust you with a 40 ton vehicle, before you even get to see the insides of one. I was then interested why the same tests were not used for car driving licences and they told me they had had a trial and more than 70% of people with licences would not pass. If you want a good standard of driving, one needs to include a good and thorough licence program, similar to the ones now implemented in Finland and Austria, regular retesting (5 years or so - similar to a private pilot's licence), regular medical testing (can be 5 years and more often for older drivers), and training in emergency maneuvres and car control. But then again it will never happen, because driving a car is seemingly a natural right, no matter how crap you actually are at it.
Do these findings in any way correlate to actual rates of road accidents -- and their severity -- across the states? I can think of a dozen potential reasons why a state with drivers who, on average, score poorly on a written test might still be a safer place to be in a car. E.g.: All the "bad" drivers, whose performance brings down the average score, are licensed but pretty much don't drive because they live in the big city and take taxis or public transport. All the active drivers actually score much higher. Thus, the bad drivers do not contribute much to road danger, while their lack of ongoing road experience is precisely what makes them bad on the written test. Or: The states with bad drivers have good roads, or slow traffic, or shorter than average road commutes, mitigating the effects of driver badness. Or bad drivers really correlate with more accidents and damage. With any number of conflicting possible models or routes of causation, all seeming at least somewhat plausible, I ask: Where's the beef? Meaning: In what way does this matter?