Does the United States Have the World's Best Drivers? Sure, Just Ask Us

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here
does the united states have the world s best drivers sure just ask us

If you ask any terrible motorist how skilled they are behind the wheel, the response is often the same. “Oh, I’m a great driver,” they’ll say with a self-assured smile. Meanwhile, you’re left holding back a series of screaming rants that involve first-hand accounts of why their claim couldn’t possibly be accurate. But what about the rest of the country?

As it turns out, the general consensus in the United States is that most people think they’re a fine driver. But things get a little more complicated when you drive into people’s habits behind the wheel. In a recent survey, found that 60.8 percent of surveyed Americans thought they were an above-average driver. While that percentage can only be an impossibility, some of the claimed behaviors were slightly better than a comparative sample of international respondents.

By comparison, the group’s international survey only yielded a 50.6-percent portion of drivers who considered themselves “above average.” But the majority thought they could still outperform the typical American motorist.

However, getting into the nitty-gritty, U.S. respondents were more likely to engage in safe driving practices when compared to the rest of the world. They were significantly more willing to signal while changing lanes or preparing for a turn and slightly more apt to wear a seatbelt and come to a complete stop.

Still, the perception among the global community is that the U.S. isn’t brimming with safe drivers. Only 2.3 percent of the international community thought America had the best drivers. Fortunately, even fewer thought it was the worst. But, when asked to look at itself in the mirror, 16.4 percent of U.S. respondents claimed their home country was the worst — with China and India trailing behind at 7.3 and 5.6 percent, respectively.

Conversely, the perception of German drivers was exceptionally positive — both in America and abroad. Over 19 percent of the international community considered Germany as the country with the best drivers and 8.7 percent of surveyed Americans were in agreement. In fact, after the United States, Deutschland was the country Americans were most likely to claim had superior skills behind the wheel — followed by Canada.

The study cited Germany’s rather stringent licensing test procedures as one reason it might have the perception of housing the world’s best drivers. It also might explain why countries like India were looked upon less favorably, as its road-readiness testing is laughably basic.

Unfortunately, the sample sizes of the survey were fairly meager. About 1,000 drivers were included in the research, half from the U.S. and half from abroad, and we don’t know were the majority of the global respondents reside. Presumably, the majority could have been from one or two countries. If so, that could have skewed the international data rather dramatically. But, even if that is the case, it doesn’t make the questions posited any less important.

Every country should strive to have the best driving record it can manage. While I’m about to suggest American males’ tendency to disregard speed limits by a larger margin than their international counterparts causes more accidents, the U.S. could certainly shore up its accident rates and do everything in its power to reduce incidents of intoxicated driving.

Humility may even play a factor in achieving those goals. After all, why would you check yourself when you already assume you’re doing a great job? The secret to being a good driver is making a continued effort to be better than you were the last time you got behind the wheel, not proclaiming yourself as king of the road while you fiddle with the radio in traffic or doze off.

The survey includes numerous interesting tidbits and graphs we didn’t touch upon, as well as resources to help become a better driver. If you’re interested, and you probably should be, the site even has practice tests for every state’s DMV. We would be curious to see what score everyone gets in the comments section.


Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

More by Matt Posky

Join the conversation
3 of 40 comments
  • Eriksvane Eriksvane on Nov 28, 2017

    "American males’ tendency to disregard speed limits by a larger margin than their international counterparts causes more accidents" Why were speed limits — or slowness limits, rather — introduced in the first place? For safety reasons? No, they were introduced on purely economic grounds — in response to the OPEC-created oil crisis of 1972 and 1973. Throughout the West, the measure came with promises that it would be dismantled within a year or so — certainly one of the most egregious example of bureaucratic creep in the history of the world. (Why would any people — especially, individualistic Americans — agree to so low, to so ridiculous, a limit as 55 mph unless it was because it was believed to be a temporary measure?). …/… In the space of five hours, one day in March 2015, one single radar of the Danish police on a tiny part of the Copenhagen highway earned (sic) so much money that it made headlines in the press of Denmark. But what was telling was not that the authorities had earned two million Danish Crowns ($290,000!) in less than a quarter of a day, it was that — although Ekstrabladet was of course oblivious to this — there had not been a single traffic fatality at that point that day, let alone a single accident. There cannot be 35 different ways of interpreting that piece of news. If it doesn't suggest that speed limits (slowness limits) have little to nothing to do with safety and are a scam — or at the very least that they are (far) too low — you can call me King Alfred the Great. …/…

  • Bloodnok Bloodnok on Nov 28, 2017

    file under kruger-dunning effect (that's the second time) ....

  • Parkave231 I'd rather they remember how to manufacture the things they have before adding more trims and options.
  • SCE to AUX "as if 775 lb-ft of torque in a pickup isn’t enough"Exactly. How about doing something hard instead, like getting your electric truck to meet 'truck' expectations first? That would sell better than a Raptor-like truck.
  • Akear They sell only 20,000 Mustang EVs a year. They better keep the current Mustang!
  • Jkross22 We're thinking about the 500e all wrong. This is a 'new' old car. All of the tooling and R&D is done. Easy way to move an 'Italian' car up market and boost fleet MPG. Plus... dealers can move all unsold models into demo/fleet usage so when Jeep and Durango owners come in for service, they can use this as a loaner.
  • Namesakeone Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. A light truck coming from Ford. We have never seen anything like it. (This is me trying to sound like I'm excited.)