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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Study: New York drivers rank 45th in nation when it comes to knowing the rules of the road

Earlier this week, GMAC Insurance released the results of a nationwide test designed to measure the average motorist's knowledge of vehicle traffic laws. The results? You may want to reconsider that road trip to the nation's capital.

According to GMAC, drivers in Washington D.C. are the least knowledgeable when it comes to vehicle traffic law, a dubious distinction previously held by New York drivers for the past two years.

GMAC arrived at these results by administering a test of 20 basic licensing questions to exactly 5,130 drivers - ages 16-65 - in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Any score below 70 percent was treated as a failing.

Overall, the national average on the test was 77.9 percent. This translates into a finding that nearly one in five U.S. drivers (i.e., 36.9 million motorists) "cannot meet the basic [licensing] requirements"

It is worth noting, however, that the national average actually rose by 1.7 percent.

Some of the more notable statewide findings by GMAC include:

  • Drivers in the District of Columbia scored an average of 71.8 percent, earning the lowest rank
  • Drivers in New York scored an average of 75.3 percent, earning a rank of 45
  • Drivers in Kansas scored an average of 82.9 percent, earning the highest rank

"Taking the test brings a little bit of attention to something that people don't generally think about," said Scott Eckman, GMAC's chief marketing officer. "If we can have people just think twice, it may make them think about rules and maybe pay attention."

According to GMAC, one of the hardest questions - 85 percent got it wrong - was the following: What is the correct action when approaching a steady yellow light?

(Answer: "Stop if it is safe to do so.")

Stay tuned for more from our New York traffic law blog ...

A ticket for violating a vehicle traffic law can result in serious consequences, including fines, points against your license, increased insurance rates, license suspension/revocation or even jail time. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has received a citation, don't just dismiss it.

Instead, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Washington drivers replace N.Y. as most unfit (Bloomberg Businessweek)

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