Northeast Has Dumbest Drivers

The Northeast has the nation’s dumbest drivers, according to a recent basic knowledge test conducted by GMAC insurance.

Survey: Northeast has dumbest drivers (CNN/Money)

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.

A sidebar lists state-by-state scores on the driving test. Interestingly, my former home state of Alabama and my current residence of Virginia tied for 15th, with a score of 84.7. Not surprisingly, D.C. is near the bottom (47 of 51).

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    If they selected out New Orleans, it would have a score in the low 40s.

  2. The Man says:

    New Yorkers found the test was hard to take while flipping off the cab driver in the next lane at the same time.

  3. Meezer says:

    The two most missed questions:
    1) Who yields when entering an expressway, the person on the on-ramp or the traffic in the right lane?
    2) True or False
    Right-on-red means it is ok to turn right as long as the oncoming car is not involved in a fatal crash in order to avoid hitting you.

  4. Just Me says:

    I absolutely believe this.

    I moved to NH from the South, and driving anywhere in Massachussettes, especially Boston scares me. They also have a few nice phrases for Massachussettes drivers here in the Granite State.

  5. Django Bliss says:

    Also living in Southern NH, the cluelessness of Mass drivers is absolutely terrifying. Not only do they think that they’re the only car on the road, they’re close enough to Rhode Island to not know that every car comes with a working turn signal.

  6. Freedebate says:

    I worked as a consultant in the Boston area for 6 months and was completely amazed at how bad the drivers are in the area. And it is a combination of cluelessness and pure arrogance – if you ahve to slam on the breaks to avoid people turning left on green it is not their problem. To bad the police that are ever present at the construction sites there don’t give out more tickets for wreckless driving, signal/sign violations, etc.

  7. Peter says:

    Am I seeing things, or doesn’t there appear to be a correlation between population density and test scores?

  8. I was surprised Arizona did as well as it did. It must have been during the summer.

  9. Kathy K says:

    I’m with Django Bliss. Mass. drivers absolutely terrify me. And I’ve driven in some countries whose drivers would terrify most Americans (though probably not Mass. drivers…).

    Note to The Man: NY drivers miss you by a fraction of an inch while flipping you off. That’s an improvement on Mass. drivers…

  10. McGehee says:

    Here in Georgia, we have sheriff’s deputies who are even more prone to commit minor driving infractions than the general public.

    I guess they all must have learned to drive in New England?

  11. Cappy says:

    Where do we find the test? I want to have some proof for the idiots I know that can’t drive.