For the fourth consecutive year, GMAC Insurance has done a study of American driving habits, and the statistics are rather grim. In their test, known as the National Drivers Test, 5,524 subjects were asked questions culled from actual DMV exams from around the country, and the results were less than reassuring. GMAC is extrapolating that roughly 33 million licensed drivers would fail a drivers test if they took it after several years on the road.
What are the most common crash-causing mistakes? Here are the top five, along with corrective advice, from GMAC’s list of the top ten:
- Driven to Distraction: Whether it’s an iPod, cell phone or even a GPS, it’s pulling your attention away from the road. Turn your portable electronics off when you turn the ignition on.
- Too Close for Comfort: Most drivers don’t leave enough space between themselves and the car in front of them. Make sure you have a “cushion” of at least two-seconds. Tailgating is only acceptable at sporting events. Also, if you’re driving in wet or icy conditions, increase that to 4 or 6 seconds.
- Turn, Turn, Turn: American drivers tend not to yield on left-hand turns when they should. Be sure to look at the street you’re turning across and the street you’re turning onto, and watch for pedestrians as well as other cars.
- Menacing Mergers: Many accidents happen because of drivers who stop on highway entrance ramps. Yield signs don’t mean “stop,” just “proceed with caution.” If you’re behind someone who isn’t merging correctly, watch them carefully. Also, remember that you have to accelerate as you enter a highway – the prevailing traffic will not slow down for you.
- Without a Backward Glance: You already know that objects in your rear-view mirrors are closer than they appear, so be certain to look over your shoulder when you’re backing up. This will allow you to confirm how close things really are.
The National Drivers Test is available at the GMAC Insurance website, if you want to test your own knowledge of the rules of the road, and see how you measure up to other drivers.