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Ore. Ranks Best in Nation for Driver Knowledge, Study Says

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Oregon drivers rank as the most knowledgable in the nation when it comes to the rules of the road and automobile safety, according to a new study by an insurance company.

Nearly 5,000 licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 65 were tested nationwide by GMAC Insurance Group to measure their driving and safety knowledge.

The drivers were given a 20-question written test similar to tests for state driver’s permits or licenses. Oregon drivers ranked highest on the test with an overall average score of 89 percent while Rhode Island ranked lowest at 77 percent.

The insurance company said the study suggest that, if tested today, one in 10 drivers – nearly 20 million Americans – would fail a state driver’s test.

The study also evaluated everyday driving habits, and found that:

Half of Americans report that they do not know how to merge into heavy traffic.

Nearly two-thirds of drivers say they change lanes on a highway without using their blinker.

About a third of Americans have packed their cars so tightly that their vision was obstructed.

Nearly one in five Americans say they have driven without a rear view or driver’s side mirror, and do not know that highways are the most slippery just when it starts to rain after a dry spell.

Lack of knowledge about traffic rules and safety appear to be directly linked to accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit research organization funded by auto insurers.

For example, institute research has indicated that speeding increases both the likelihood and the severity of crashes.

Institute studies also show that, since 1997, about a third of traffic fatalities involved drivers with a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08 percent, the legal limit in every state.

“As a nation of drivers, we’ve made little progress in the past 10 years to curb some of the most dangerous driving behaviors, including drinking and driving and speeding,” said Susan Ferguson, senior vice president of research for the institute.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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