Look out! Lots of Americans just can't drive

May 26, 2011: 4:04 PM ET
Americans don't know rules of the road

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- More than one in five Americans -- some 36.9 million -- are not fit to drive and would fail a driving test if asked to take one today, according to a new survey of the nation's drivers.

Shocking as that may be, it's actually an improvement. Last year, 38 million received failing grades. Nationwide, the average score this year increased to 77.9% from 76.2% in 2010.

According to GMAC Insurance, which conducted the survey, the results mean that a great number of people on the road still lack basic driving knowledge, an ignorance that leads to dangerous driving habits.

For example, a full 85% of those surveyed could not identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow traffic light.

And only one in four knew safe following distances.

But, the survey suggests, you can avoid some of these drivers if you know what to look for: Young people, women and motorists who live in the Northeast.

Twenty-seven percent of women failed the test, while males had a failure rate of 13.6%. The oldest drivers tested -- ages 60 to 65 -- had the highest average test scores at 80.3%.

Drivers in the Northeast scored lowest, while respondents in the Midwest fared best. The worst place, no surprise to anyone who drives there, is Washington, D.C.

Wyoming, where less than 5% of the population failed the test, took home the top prize for states.

The annual GMAC Insurance National Drivers test polled 5,130 licensed drivers from 50 states and the District of Columbia with a 20-question test derived from state department of motor vehicles exams.  To top of page

Find Your Next Car

Get the latest car news:

CNNMoney Sponsors

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.