Study Proves It: Americans Can’t Drive

Young woman driving

Watch out...

My 15-year-old nephew got his learner’s permit this month and has already blown past a stop sign onto a busy arterial.

Luckily the incident passed without major consequence… the biggest problem for him being a seriously fuming father in the passenger seat.

While experienced drivers might assume it’s the 15- and 16-olds we need to watch out for, a new study proves that about 1 in 5 U.S. drivers couldn’t pass a driving test. While that’s disturbing, I can’t say it’s particularly surprising considering how many people can’t even figure out how to use a left turn signal.

According to GMAC Insurance, which conducted the survey, the results mean that some 37 million people on the road lack basic driving knowledge, which obviously leads to dangerous driving situations for the remaining 160 million or so of us good drivers.

It’s not like the study asked particularly difficult questions, either. For example, a full 85 percent of people could not identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light. (If you think the answer is “speed up,” congratulations. You are one of the 37 million.)

Turn signal

Come on people: up for right, down for left

Women scored worse than men in the study, with 27 percent failing the test against 13.6 percent men. The oldest age group surveyed performed the best overall, with over 80 percent of 60-65 year-olds passing. Young people were among the worst performers. Minimum driving age of 18, anyone?

The Midwest performed best geographically, and the Northeast had the worst scores. So, putting this information together, if you’re ever up in Rhode Island, you might want to steer clear of all the young women on the road. (Perhaps it’s best if they ride with you.)

Personally, whatever the age, sex or location of the driver, I’d be happy if they just learned to use their turn signals. That is truly my biggest annoyance on the road.

What is your biggest annoyance while driving?


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  1. I completely agree with you Randy. I’ve seen some crazy stuff too. My most recent pet-peeve is when people run red lights. I’ve gotten used to people running yellow lights and not quite making it through before it turns red… but lately I’ve been noticing how some people regard a red light as not *really* a red light until after a couple of seconds have passed. I have already come close to crashing with one of these drivers only to have the driver wave her hands at me as if I had done something wrong by taking a turn on a greed arrow. Say what you will about speed cameras and privacy concerns, local governments’ revenue streams would do well if they installed these cameras throughout cities and towns.

  2. Just to reinforce what I mention, today my wife and I watched one woman run into the back end of another car stopped at a traffic light on an exit ramp. She was looking left and when she saw an opening in the oncoming traffic, she hit the gas without bothering to look in front of her to see if the car she had stopped behind was still there. This location is a block from a major shopping center, and the women seem to be in a perpetual race to get there as though their live depended on it. After steering around them, we then watched a BMW dodge across three lanes, floor it to pass as many cars as possible on the right, and then cut hard left across three lanes of traffic to get a few cars ahead going into the shopping center. That particular idiot made it safely but we all know it’s just a matter of time until he or she makes their mistake.

  3. My number one annoyance, by far, is speeding. In Michigan, the police have trained drivers to expect no consequences at all for driving 5mph over the limit, and state cops pretty much ignore anyone going less than ten over. (They themselves are the worst offenders and routinely drive 80+ on the freeways with no lights/sirens). I live on a main road through a residential area with a very high count of driveways, side streets, hills and a lot of curves, yet the typical speed is 50. We were forced to get our mail at a side street apartment box because our mail carrier was rear-ended by speeders so often he became disabled. The worst part is that these drivers feel they are entitled to speed and become angry and offensive if they don’t get their way.

    Number two is cell phone users. Virtually all the bad situations I see (coming out of the lane, tailgating, going too slow (if you can believe that) and distracted driving) involves people using cell phones or trying to text.

    Number three is just plain ignorant people who have no idea how to signal, use a left turn lane, stop at an intersection, drive an appropriate speed and keep a safe following distance, pull a trailer, or drive a truck safely. Michigan whines about not having any money yet if they’d start vigorously enforcing traffic laws and speed limits they could generate hundreds of millions in fines and maybe educate some of these idiots on the roads.

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