I live in New England, New Hampshire specifically. I work every day in Massachusetts. Today I find myself in Rhode Island. As a result of all this driving, specifically this recent trip to RI, this doesn't surprise me in the least.
When faced with a written test, similar to ones given to beginning drivers applying for licenses, one in ten drivers couldn't get a passing score, according to a study commissioned by GMAC Insurance.
The GMAC Insurance National Driver's Test found that nearly 20 million Americans, or about 1 in 10 drivers, would fail a state driver's test if they had to take one today. GMAC Insurance is part of General Motors' finance subsidiary, GMAC.
More than 5,000 licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 65 were administered a 20-question written test designed to measure basic knowledge about traffic laws and safety. They were also surveyed about their general driving habits.
Drivers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states did worst. Twenty percent of test-takers failed there.
The state of Rhode Island leads the nation in driver cluelessness, according to the survey. The average test score there was 77, just eight points above a failing grade.
Those in neighboring Massachussets were second worst and New Jersey, third worst.
This is, of course, a test of knowledge of the laws of driving. If my experiences are any indication, the knowledge in this area of driving courtesies is even lower. Blind merges. Inability to understand four-way stops. Speeds either inappropriately high or inappropriately low for the traffic and conditions, often together. Treatment of the left lane as a travel lane, not a passing lane. Tailgaiting. Most definitely inability to use turn signals. One of my favorites is the driver who unexpectely stops in the middle of the street to allow another car to exit a parking lot in front of them. That's awful nice of you to help that one car, buddy, but completely unexpected and not very nice at all to the eight cars behind you.
According to the study, many drivers find basic practices, such as merging and interpreting road signs, difficult.
Those confusing road signs can often cause people to come to a complete stop. Of course, the only one that's supposed to is the red octagon with the four white letters, which is the one that usually doesn't.
I can't wait to get home from Rhode Island.
UPDATE: It occurred to me that the bluest of blue states seem to correlate quite well with the worst of the worst driver states. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Washington, DC, Maryland, California, Connecticut were the bottom eight, and all very blue in the last two elections. Coincidence? I think not.
UPDATE: Submitted to Wizbang's COTT XIII. Check them all out.
UPDATE: Will Franklin notices the same thing regarding the blue state/bad driving correlation, and puts together some graphical representations. Again, a picture's worth a thousand words.