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36 million drivers would flunk drivers tests

  • Story Highlights
  • GMAC says 18 percent failed its National Drivers Test in 2007
  • That's up from 9 percent in 2006
  • 84 percent of test takers didn't know what to do at yellow light

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By Blair S. Walker
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(AOL Autos) -- Is it just your imagination, or do many of your fellow motorists lack even a rudimentary grasp of traffic laws?

One in six drivers would fail driving test if they had to take it today, a GMAC test suggests.

Well, if a test administered by GMAC Insurance is any indication, one in six people cruising our highways and byways -- roughly 36 million licensed drivers -- would flunk their driver's test if they had to take it today. Not only that, but based on the 2007 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test data the state with the most road-going dummies is New York, while the most knowledgeable ones are out West to Idaho.

"The results were pretty eye-opening to us," says Gary Kusumi, president and CEO of GMAC Insurance Personal Lines. "Not only did they indicate that there are wide differences in terms of state scores, but there were significant trends that demonstrated the general public might have forgotten must-know items from when they first took their driver's test."

"Two questions consistently sent respondents skidding into the weeds," Kusumi notes. The first has to do with the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light (Answer: Stop if it is safe to do so.). A whopping 84 percent of respondents spun their wheels on that one. The next biggest puzzler after that question had to do with the proper following distance from a car in front of you (Answer: Two seconds).

Also of interest from the GMAC Insurance test:

• Drivers 35 and older were more likely to pass

• Illinois, Georgia, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts were the least knowledgeable states overall, with average scores under 75 percent

• Fifty-five percent of the respondents didn't know how many feet before making a left or right turn to activate their turn signals

• The national average score was 77.1 percent

"We believe that the adoption of a uniform driver curriculum will significantly improve the driving skills of Americans," says Adele Kristiansson, a spokesperson for the National Road Safety Foundation. "Some states do not require mandatory education for novice drivers, and some states require it," adds Kristiansson. "My organization is concerned because driver education is an orphaned child and it's suffering."

On the Web at, and offering free programs to the public, the National Road Safety Foundation was created in 1961 by Fraydun Manocherian, after two youthful friends were killed in automobile accidents in Westchester County, New York.

According to GMAC Insurance, 18 percent of respondents failed its National Driving Test in 2007, compared with 9 percent in 2006. The test can be taken online at

The following state rankings were released for the 2007 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test:

1. Idaho.

2. Alaska

3. Minnesota

4. Wisconsin

5. Kansas

6. Washington

7. South Dakota

8. Montana

9. Oregon

10. Iowa

11. Nebraska

12. Wyoming

13. Oklahoma

13. Indiana

13. North Carolina

16. New Mexico

17. North Dakota

18. Missouri

19. Delaware

19. Nevada


22. California

23. Hawaii

24. Texas

25. Maryland


27. Arkansas

28. Michigan

29. Kentucky

30. Utah

31. Ohio


33. South Carolina


33. Florida

36. Maine

37. New Hampshire

37. Mississippi

37. Tennessee

40. Connecticut

41. Virginia

41. Louisiana

43. West Virginia

44. Georgia

45. Illinois

46. Pennsylvania

47. Rhode Island

48. Massachusetts

48. District of Columbia

48. New Jersey

51. New York E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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